Right now, Jayshon Irvin (100m), Zach Gay (high jump), and Brian Pallini (shot put) are Marietta College's only provisional qualifiers for the 2009 NCAA Division III Track & Field National Championship at Don Drumm Stadium May 21-23.
Pioneer head coach Derek Stanley is hoping for more, and with a few more meets on the schedule, the number of automatic or provisional qualifiers could increase.
"From up until Friday night at 11:59 p.m. before the championship, you can qualify," said Stanley, now in his sixth year at the helm. "And these last chance meets take you all over the place."
On the MC slate, MC is at the Dragon Last Chance Meet in Tiffin May 5.
The Pioneers then will be competing at the Gator Invitational at Allegheny College in Meadville, Pa., May 8. The following day, they'll be closer to home at the Ohio Open in Athens.
On May 12, MC will be hosting a meet at Don Drumm Stadium, and then on May 15, the Pioneers will be competing at the North Central Last Chance meet in Naperville, Ill.
Yes, there's time, but it's slowly but surely running out.
"We have no women who have qualified, yet" Stanley said. "But we had a girl who hit a qualifying mark earier in the year, but she wasn't participating for Marietta at the time.
"We have very good chance of getting our women's hammer thrower in. Her name is Tiffany Kovacevich. There's also a very good chance that a woman by the name of Sheena Spencer could qualify in the 400-meter hurdles. And, she's also a part of a 4x400-meter relay team that also has Jessi Larrison, Christi Tims, and Corryn Muench."
This past weekend at the 2009 Ohio Athletic Conference Track & Field Championship at Wilmington College, Kovacevich, a senior from Strongsville, repeated as an All-OAC honoree with a winning toss in the hammer throw of 45.21m (40-09.75). She also set a school mark in the shot put with a heave of 12.41m (50.8.75).
Spencer was runner-up in the 400m hurdles with a time of 1:04.85, and helped the 4x100 relay team finish second.
"We're just trying to keep the athletes focused and performing at their best - and not trying to hit a mark," Stanley said. "Usually, you get better results."
By now, one might be wondering what a "provisional qualifier" is.
"There is a list that's kept that keeps track of the performances," the coach said. "Usually, you're going to have around 18 to 20 or more that are on that list.
"Now, what happens, there's two marks you can hit. You can hit an automatic mark or a provisional mark. If you hit the automatic mark, you're in the championship. Nobody can take you out of it."
"If you hit a provisional mark," he continued, "it's kind of like a filler list. So, they'll take your automatic qualifiers and fill the field size to about...I think, it's 14. Usually, you have one and four automatic qualifiers. So, then you're going to have anywhere between 13 and 10 provisonal qualifiers. If you're at 14, you're pretty safe. If you're at 15 or 16, you can still get in. You're on a bubble. And that's based on the committee making their selections. It's just like selection Sunday for basketball. They're trying to get as many kids in the championship as possible."
Let's hope that more Marietta College thinclads will be competing in late May's marquee event at Don Drumm.
Ron Johnston is the Marietta Times sports editor and can be reached at 376-5441, or at email@example.com