As Ohio gets deeper into its outdoor season, strategy comes into play.
Ohio used its first two meets, the Winthrop Invitational and the Raleigh Relays, as a starting gauge to see how it stacked up against a variety of postseason-caliber competition.
“We saw some top-level competition, some of the best in the country at the Raleigh Relays,” Ohio coach Clay Calkins said. “Those are the meets that we key in on.”
Last weekend was a different story.
Ohio hosted a small field for the Cherry Blossom Invitational. The competition at the meet was relatively lacking, however, Calkins and his team knew that.
The Bobcats used the day to mix up their lineup, trying new athletes in different events, while resting other athletes on the side.
For some of the younger Bobcats, it was a test meet. They were given a shot at proving themselves in a collegiate setting. For the team’s top sprinters, it was a rest day. And for the distance runners, it turned into a practice. They were given valuable time for speed training when they took the sprinters’ places in the 4x100 and 4x200 relays.
The Bobcats had a dominating performance, concluding the meet with nine event wins — three of which were uncontested.
“It was great,” Calkins said. “I think it was a nice training mechanism to get ready for Charlotte.”
Ohio heads to the Carolinas for the third time in four meets this weekend for the Charlotte Invitational. Appalachian State, Benedict, Charlotte, Charleston Southern, Davidson, Gardner-Webb, North Carolina State, Norfolk State, UNC-Wilmington, S.C. Upstate, Wake Forest and Winthrop will all be in attendance.
The Charlotte Invitational is just one of a few meets approaching on the schedule that Calkins and the Bobcats are looking forward to.
“We’ve got a lot of good, quality meets coming up as does everybody else,” Calkins said. “For comparative purposes, we’ll look more heavily into meets like the Charlotte Invitational and Jesse Owens Classic as we get later in the season, get better competition and hopefully better weather conditions too.”
At this point in the outdoor season, the Bobcats have yet to go up against a majority of Mid-American Conference teams. As for a gauge to know how they stand against the MAC in certain events, coach Calkins and the Bobcats use the online track and field reporting system, Track & Field Results Reporting System.
The system records meet results from across the nation on a daily basis and compiles the results into different performance lists. The Bobcats can not only stay updated on where they sit in the conference but also in the region.
“We utilize that tool to see where everybody’s at because you have to be in the top 20 in our conference to make the MAC meet,” Calkins said.
The Bobcats enter week four of the outdoor season claiming top-10 spots in 11 different events on the MAC performance list.
The biggest change on the list this week came in the javelin. Ohio freshman Tajah Haley’s lifetime-best throw of 40.90 meters (134.2 feet) at the Cherry Blossom Invitational earned her seventh on the list. She also qualified for the MAC outdoor championships with the toss. She joins Jordan Porter and Emma Ryan as the only Bobcats to automatically qualify for the championships so far this outdoor season.
Josie Woosley appeared at 13th in the 800 meters on the list after her 2:17.28 performance on her home track last weekend.
In the high jump, Tana Barrett put herself at 10th on the list with her leap of 1.64 meters. Other notable changes for the Bobcats included Keliah Causey climbing to 13th in the triple jump and Gaza Odunaiya’s climb to eighth in the hammer throw.
Meanwhile, three Bobcats sit in the top 48 position on the East Region outdoor performance list. The top 48 competitors in the East Region in each respective event at the end of the regular season qualify for the NCAA preliminary rounds.
Porter is currently 32nd in the east in the shot put. The other two Bobcats in the top 48 appear in the 10,000 meters. Alyssa Atkinson is 35th on the list while Ellen Isaac sits at 44th. The highest Bobcat outside of the top 48 in an event is Emma Ryan. She currently ranks 57th in the javelin.
It’s too early to tell what the outlook is at this point for Bobcats. All they can do as a team is improve meet by meet and adjust to the competition as it becomes stronger and stronger.
The Charlotte Invitational starts on Friday with field events beginning at 2 p.m. and running events at 6:30 p.m. Field events open at 9 a.m. on Saturday with running events following at noon.