Late Friday (May 3) afternoon, Ashland University track and field coach Jud Logan was in the middle of the Ferguson Field athletic complex talking about meteorology and track and field. There were times when it was hard to tell the difference between the two subjects.
"Eighteen years doing this and we've never had three weather days like this," proclaimed Logan. “Maybe two, but never three."
The same thing could be said for AU track and field. When is the last time the Eagles, annually one of the best track and field programs in the nation, had a three-day stretch like this?
On Friday, the AU men won the GLIAC outdoor track and field championships. This is the 10th time the Ashland men have won the outdoor crown since 1996. The victory halted a two-year run by Grand Valley State. Over the last eight years, the Lakers and the Eagles have each won four outdoor championships. The last time a school other than Ashland or GVSU won the GLIAC men's outdoor championship was in 1995 when Hillsdale took the crown.
The AU men led a 14-team field with 199 points. Grand Valley State (169) was second and Tiffin (102) was third.
The Ashland women finished second out of 15 teams with 109 points. GVSU retained the conference championship with 220 points. Tiffin (89) was third.
Logan was named the 2013 GLIAC men's coach of the year. Senior Joe Horn (Waynsfield, Ohio/Waynesfield-Goshen) was the GLIAC male runner of the year and Cynthia Watt (Mount Vernon, N.Y.) was the female field athlete of the year. Sophomore Drew Windle (New Albany, Ohio) was selected as the Midwest Region men's runner of the year.
At this meet, 14 conference records were broken. Ashland re-wrote seven of those. That included the 4X4 relay which the Eagles won in 3:09.16. The quartet of Keith Cleveland (Cleveland, Ohio/Shaker Heights), Cory Lamar (Wakeman, Ohio/Firelands), Windle and Horn eclipsed a record that stood for 32 years – in 1981 Northwood set the conference mark in 3:10.3
This was the first time this season Horn was running with the first unit in the 4X4. He subbed in because Jacob Cook (Lima, Ohio/Allen East) had a tight hamstring.
Horn won a GLIAC title and set a conference record in the 200 (20.84) and he was part of the Ashland 4X1 relay that won the league title and set a conference record (40.43). AU's other GLIAC marks came in the 800 where Windle won in 1:48.04, in the 110 hurdles where Elijha Owens (Shaker Heights, Ohio) was victorious in 14.04, in the women's high jump where Jennifer Foster (Lodi, Ohio/Cloverleaf) prevailed at 6-0 and in the women's pole vault, where Katie Nageotte (Olmsted Falls, Ohio) set an NCAA Division II record of 14-6.75. Foster broke a conference record that had stood for 20 years.
"This team has left a legacy that will be told for years," noted Logan.
All three days of this meet, which was conducted under sunny skies and temperatures in the mid-70s, the Eagles got the results they expected and then they mixed in several unexpected performances. On Friday in the men's pole vault, Nate Kirk (Columbus, Ohio/Central Crossing) shocked everyone by winning a conference title at 16-00.75 feet.
"He was seeded 14th," reminded Logan. "At that point, we hadn't turned the tide."
Logan was also thrilled by the gutty performance turned in by Zaan Janse (Wellington, New Zealand) in the 800. Windle was first and Tom Scott (Lima, Ohio/Shawnee) was second (1:49.88) and then there was Janse, busting a gut to finish seventh (1:54.37) and provide the Eagles with two additional points. Those are what Logan refers to as "pennies." On this day those copper coins added up to gold.
"We go one, two, seven, that's a huge flip of points," explained Logan. "Once we got rolling, the support of the other athletes, the support of the crowd, it just got done."
While Kirk was euphorically running around the outside of the track celebrating his victory, just a few feet away Garrett Grey (Grahamsville, N.Y./Tri-Valley) was wrapping up a conference title in the hammer. He entered this competition with the best mark in the nation (221-9). Friday, he bettered that mark with a heave that measured 225-5.
"It's amazing, we never had this before," said Grey of throwing at home in front of a loud, enthusiastic following. "To hold the conference meet, this facility is awesome. Ashland has been so good to us. To be here in my senior year, to be here for the conference meet, is awesome."
That word is a good way to describe what Zac Ball (Amherst, Ohio/Firelands) did in the hammer. GVSU's Darien Thornton was second (214-6) behind Grey and then came Ball in third place (204-4). He made an 11-foot improvement and got an inspired embrace from Logan after that mark.
"You just did that in the third year in the program, that's unheard of," said Logan.
The final day also saw AU's Shaunisha Winter (Heath, Ohio) finish first in the triple jump (40-1.25). In the women's shot put, Jamie Sindelar (Athens, Ohio/Plains) was second (48-2.0) and Jessica Bridenthal (Akron, Ohio/St. Vincent-St. Mary) was third (47-11.25). GVSU's Sam Lockhart won the championship in the shot put at 55-0, which is a conference record.
Foster was the defending conference champ in the high jump and she won this championship at 6-0. That broke the record of 5-8.50, set by Northwood's Julayne Thayer in 1985. Foster's mark is an automatic qualifier for nationals.
Saginaw Valley State's Taylor Stepanski was named the GLIAC female freshman runner of the year and Lake Superior State's Leslie-Ann Mitchell was the GLIAC female runner of the year. Lockhart was the female field athlete of the year and GVSU's Jerry Baltes was the women's coach of the year. Lockhart was named the women's regional field athlete of the year and her teammate, Hannah Osborn, was the region's female runner of the year.
For the men, Tiffin's Macklin Tudor was the GLIAC men's freshman field athlete of the year. GVSU's Sean Wells was the GLIAC men's freshman runner of the year and Findlay's Derrick Vicars was the men's field athlete of the year. Lake Superior State's Justin Balczak was the region's men's field athlete of the year.
Check all the results at: http://goashlandeagles.com/sports/track/2012-13/files/GLIAC_Final_Track_Results.htm
Ashland University, ranked in the top 200 colleges and universities in U.S. News and World Report’s National Universities category for 2013, is a mid-sized, private university conveniently located a short distance from Akron, Cleveland and Columbus, Ohio. Ashland University (www.ashland.edu) values the individual student and offers a unique educational experience that combines the challenge of strong, applied academic programs with a faculty and staff who build nurturing relationships with their students. ###