The conditions were less than ideal for the hammer throw on Day 1 of the 10th Ashland Alumni Open on Friday (April 19), but the persistent rain didn't stop Ashland University senior Mackenzie Leigh from hitting – and blowing past – a milestone mark.
Leigh, who already was the No. 3-ranked women's hammer thrower in NCAA Division II entering Friday, cemented her place among the best in the country by not only winning the elite category of the Open's women's hammer, but doing so with a personal-record heave of 60.74 meters.
"It feels great to be able to put something together for this meet," Leigh said. "A wet ring is a fast ring, so I was excited to be able to throw with it being a faster surface."
Fellow Ashland senior Natalie Helenthal climbed up the NCAA list in the women's hammer throw, as well, placing second in the elite event with an improved provisional mark of 59.17 meters.
In the open men's hammer, senior Jim Toth won the title at 55.96 meters.
Highlighting the men's elite hammer was the return of former AU strength and conditioning coach and three-time United States Olympian A.G. Kruger, now the throws coach at NCAA Division I South Dakota. Kruger won the men's elite with a top mark of 69.76 meters.
The second and final day of the 10th Ashland Alumni Open will take place on Saturday (April 20) at the Dwight Schar Athletic Complex. Field events begin at 10 a.m., and running events go at 12:15 p.m.