Preparing for any kind of athletic event after a long break can be extremely tough for a coach. With nearly two decades of coaching experience though, Ohio head coach Clay Calkins is used to it.
“I’m going into about my 19th year coaching," Calkins said. "So I’ve learned to temper my expectations on he first meet back from break.”
Ohio is returning to the track after a more than month-long hiatus this Friday as it travels to Youngstown for the YSU Invitational. Ohio has ran in one meet, when it lost to Marshall 82-28 in a dual. Despite the lopsided score, Calkins was impressed with his team’s effort and even a little bit surprised.
“A lot of things that we saw, we expected at the meet,” he said. “Some were better than expected.”
One of the performances Calkins was referring to was that of senior thrower Jordan Porter. Porter’s put of 15.00 meters (49.2 feet) in the shot put earned her an automatic bid to the Mid-American Conference Indoor Championships in February. The toss was so impressive that it raised the question if she could compete on the national stage.
“Jordan hitting the MAC-auto in the shot put was fantastic,” Calkins said. “Her marks are close to that national stage level.”
It usually only takes around 50 feet to get to the National Championship meet. With more performances like the one she had at Marshall and a steady improvement throughout the season, Porter could be well on her way.
The Bobcats had other performances that stuck out at Marshall, even though Porter was the only athlete to finish first in her event. High jumper Atiya Spaulding placed third. Gaza Odunaiya placed third in the weight throw. In spite of struggles on the track, Mya Hodge and Courtney Guiley each placed third in sprints.
Ohio will have more athletes beginning this week. The distance runners will make their debut on the track after a long and grueling cross country season. A couple Mid-American Conference Championship hopefuls will also come on to the scene including high jumper Tana Barrett.
As they begin the bulk of their season Friday, the Bobcats must be careful with injuries.
This time of year, it can be immensely difficult for athletes to stay healthy and conditioned. Calkins is pleased to see no one on his team with any serious concerns.
“We have a few lingering injuries here and there but nothing major,” he said. “There’s nothing season-ending.”
The meet is projected to start at 12:30 p.m. Friday and will run on a rolling time schedule. Calkins noted that the meet will show just how impactful this winter break has been on the Ohio athletes.
“We’re taking this as a gauge to see where everyone’s at fitness-wise and ability-wise so we can move forward from this meet into the Marshall meet next week.”