There's just one more chance to impress for Ashland University's men's and women's indoor track and field teams prior to the 2018 Great Lakes Intercollegiate Athletic Conference Championships.
Most of the Eagle men and women will compete on Saturday (Feb. 17) at the Kent State Tune Up or be off in preparations for the conference meet, and a women's 4x400-meter relay will go to the Buckeye Tune Up on Friday (Feb. 16).
"The ones that are still chasing…people we think still have a really good chance (to make nationals)," said Ashland head coach Jud Logan, "everyone's still looking to not over-do it, but pick that one event and get on that list."
On the women's side, redshirt freshman Gianna DiPippo earned her first GLIAC Women's Field Athlete of the Week award after moving up to the No. 10 spot in the country in the women's weight throw at 18.69 meters/61-feet-4.
"For her to get that honor was big," Logan said. "It kind of validated some of the things she's been working hard at. We knew that that throw was there for her. She had a big breakthrough mentally, physically and technically. Now, we just want her to build on that as we move forward."
Junior Mackenzie Leigh moved up the women's weight throw national rankings as well, and sits right behind DiPippo at No. 11 (18.61 meters/61-feet-0¾).
"That's huge. We feel pretty good, enough to give her the weekend off," said Logan.
For the men, sophomore Alex Hill moved into the No. 6 spot in the history of NCAA Division II indoor men's weight throw with a top heave of 22.10 meters/72-feet-6¼. Ashland boasts seven of the top 10 on that list, including Kibwe Johnson, who boasts the D-II record throw of 25.08 meters/82-feet-3½.
With two-plus indoor seasons to go, is it possible Hill could catch Johnson?
"Everyone is texting me that same question, including Kibwe," Logan said. "Everybody wants to know if this is the one that could do it. If that's going to be a reality for Alex, he's going to have to show what he did last year. If we can get one more bump between the GLIAC and the NCAA meet, then that might be a conversation."
In the men's 4x4, three of the four spots going forward are set between junior Myles Pringle and freshmen Channing Phillips and Brenden Archer. The fourth spot may go to freshman Trevor Bassitt, but there still is competition between Bassitt, senior William Robinson, sophomore Paul Murray and freshman T.J. Elliott to fill out the relay.
Distance-wise, senior Tyler Lance set a new PR in the 5,000 run at Grand Valley State (14:55.81), but youth is being served by the likes of sophomore Kyle Shively and freshmen Jake Hall and Ian Johnson.
"Right now, Jake (Sussman) feels really good about the 5K/3K," Logan said of his Head Cross Country Coach/Assistant Track & Field Coach (Distance)/Director of Track & Field Operations. "I think he's kept the hammer down. If they hit that stride right, maybe we catch a few that we didn't expect."