Eagle track and field continues to add national marks

Evan Laux, SPORTS EDITOR FOR THE COLLEGIAN

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The 2018-2019 Ashland University track and field season was a historic ride that won’t soon be forgotten due to its place in AU athletics history.

Midway through the second semester, the men’s team secured its first ever NCAA Division II indoor team national championship in the 32 years that it has been competing in indoor championships. But that was not enough.

Come outdoor season, the Eagles won it all again, marking the first time ever that they had won both championships in the same year. The women’s team also made appearances at the indoor and outdoor championships, finishing in 11th and 10th place respectively.

But as a new season begins and rosters change, athletes are lost and new ones are added. This 2019-2020 season sees the absence of major contributors Myles Pringle and Lindsay Baker to their respective teams.

Despite this, both Eagle teams are already in stride. The No. 4-ranked men and No. 6-ranked women already have combined for four automatic and 21 provisional marks for 2020 D-II nationals on March 13-14 in Birmingham, Ala.

“I don’t think that we really compare one season to another in terms of exacting numbers,” head track and field coach Jud Logan said. “Automatic and provisional marks are great but the bottom line is that there’s going to be 16 people in every event in the NCAA championships. We’re just trying to get as many of our athletes the opportunity to compete there as possible.”

Senior high-jumper Ellie Jindra leads the charge on the women’s team, currently ranked fourth in the nation in the high jump. Jindra secured a provisional mark early in the season and her most recent jump of 1.74 meters (5’8.5”) was only .01 meters shy of the 1.75 meter automatic qualifying mark.

Right behind Jindra are sophomore Miyuki Sugiyama and senior Paula Wollenslegel, who have marks at 1.70 and 1.67 respectively.

“It’s super exciting and the first time since I’ve been here that we’ve had so many provisional marks so soon,” Jindra said. “I don’t doubt that they’ll keep coming and our team will continue to get stronger and stronger as the season goes on.”

Another breakout success in the women’s jump category comes from Erin Sievers, a freshman pole vaulter who is ranked No. 11 in the nation with a provisional jump mark of 3.80 meters.

The women’s team has six other provisional marks coming from Taylor Kroll (weight throw), Gianna Dipippo (weight throw), Carrol Pauler (weight throw), Elizabeth Weimer (shot put), Gianna Dipippo (shot put) and Maddi Yingst (400m).

“The team seems smaller than it’s been in past years but everyone gets along with everyone and it’s a big family. Team cohesion is a big thing here,” Jindra said. “There’s already a lot of people stepping up and a lot of people that haven’t completed yet that are gonna be right up there helping the team at the national level.”

The men’s team is simultaneously showing early signs of success, boasting four automatic qualification marks and 11 provisional marks.

Juniors Trevor Bassit and Brent Fairbanks sit at the top of the leaderboards; Bassit holds three automatic marks (200m, 400m and 60m hurdles) and Fairbanks holds one (weight throw).

Both athletes hold the No. 1 position in the nation in each of their events.

Bassitt scored his third automatic mark at the Youngstown State College Invite (Jan. 17), as he not only won the men’s 200-meter dash in 20.88 seconds, but set new school and facility records.

Fairbanks, who took second place in the 2019 D-II Indoor National Championship weight throw by only three inches, now leads the nation with a throw of 21.41 meters.

Behind him are senior throwers Alex Hill and Nick Zak, occupying second and third place in the nation.
“It’s just awesome,” Fairbanks said. “Everyday we come into practice and push each other to get better and build upon what we’ve been working on. We’re in a very similar position to last year and everybody I’ve talked to is extremely energetic and excited about this season and just hopeful to win another national championship.”

The other nine provisional marks from the men’s team come from Bassitt (60m), Tim Rumas (200m), Storm Elsesser (high jump), Ethan Tabor (long jump), Nick Zak (shot put), Jacob Glass (shot put), David Amstutz (weight throw), Travis Moore (heptathlon) and Ethan Tabor (heptathlon).

“It’s still early on and we’re a young, developing team, but we certainly have a lot of marks that other teams around the country would like to have at this time of the year,” Logan said.

On Jan. 24-25, Ashland’s men and women will go to both the Rod McCravy Memorial at the University of Kentucky, and the Jet’s Pizza Invitational at Saginaw Valley State where they will seek to add more national marks to the list.

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