At a conference championship meet, there are goals – to place high, to help the team, to possibly improve standing for nationals.
On Saturday (Feb. 24), on Day 1 of the 2018 Great Lakes Intercollegiate Athletic Conference Championships, a pair of Ashland University throwers did all that – and a lot more.
In the men's weight throw, sophomore Alex Hill and freshman Brent Fairbanks finished 1-2. In the process, Hill (22.49 meters) and Fairbanks (22.16 meters) now are the third- and seventh-best weight throwers, respectively, in the history of NCAA Division II men's indoor competition.
Ashland now boasts the top three all-time men's weight throwers in D-II history – Kibwe Johnson No. 1, Ryan Loughney No. 2 and Hill.
After six of 17 women's events, the Eagles are second with 54 team points, trailing only host Grand Valley State (85). A good chunk of those points were earned by two athletes in the pentathlon.
Senior Marie Hammer won the pentathlon with a total of 3,610 points, good for an improved provisional mark for 2018 D-II indoor nationals, March 9-10 at Pittsburg State. Sophomore Paula Wollenslegel took third with a new provisional total of 3,472 points.
In the women's weight throw, junior Natalie Helenthal finished second with an improved provisional distance of 19.65 meters, freshman Gianna DiPippo was third (18.23 meters) and junior Mackenzie Leigh took fourth (18.19 meters).
The women's pole vault saw sophomore Amber Otermat take fourth (3.42 meters/11-feet-2½), freshman Gabrielle Ewing sixth (3.27 meters/10-feet-8¾) and freshman Angel Frye seventh (2.97 meters/9-feet-9). The women's distance medley relay team of sophomore Johannah Stefanek, Frye, junior Tiffany Pryce and junior Emily Schumaker finished fifth in 12:39.09.
Hammer took sixth in the women's long jump (5.49 meters/18-feet-0¼), and freshman Romi Smith was seventh (5.42 meters/17-feet-9½).
Hill and Fairbanks helped the AU men, ranked No. 5 in the country, to second place as a team through the first day. Ashland has 27 points, with the host Lakers first with 38.
Sophomore Nick Zak was fifth in the men's weight throw (19.75 meters), the men's DMR of senior Ryan VanCauwenbergh, sophomore Paul Murray, junior Tyler Sievert and freshman Ian Johnson was fifth (10:26.75), and senior Tyler Lance took eighth in the men's 5,000-meter run (15:09.43).
Junior Myles Pringle won the men's 400 dash prelims, and set a new GLIAC meet record of 46.97 seconds in the process. Freshman Trevor Bassitt won the men's 60 hurdles prelims in 8.01 seconds, improving upon his previous provisional time, while freshman Channing Phillips was third in the men's 400 prelims with a new provisional time of 48.62 seconds.
UP NEXT: The second and final day of the 2018 GLIAC Championships on Sunday (Feb. 25).