It was quite a weekend for the Ashland University Division II athletic program. On Saturday:
-- the AU men’s indoor track & field team placed fourth at the NCAA Division II Championships in Pittsburg, Kansas, with junior Myles Pringle winning the national championship in the 400-meter dash.
-- the AU wrestling team placed fifth as a team at the 2018 Division II Wrestling National Championships in Cedar Rapids, Iowa, with redshirt sophomore Bret Romanzak and redshirt senior Luke Cramer being crowned national champions.
-- in the second 2018 NCAA Division II Midwest Regional semifinal at Kates Gymnasium, the Lady Eagles basketball team won its 70th straight game by defeating Grand Valley State, 80-68, to move on to the Sweet 16 for the third time in the last four years, and the fifth time in program history. The 2018 Midwest Regional championship game is at home on Monday (March 12) at 7 p.m. vs. No. 3-ranked Drury.
AU Men Finish Fourth, Pringle Wins 400-Meter National Title
The Ashland University men's indoor track & field team reached the podium for the fifth time in the last six years at the NCAA Division II Championships, as the Eagles placed fourth on Saturday (March 10) in Pittsburg, Kansas.
The Eagles had five All-American performances on Saturday to go along with three earned on the first day of the meet.
Junior Myles Pringle won the national championship in the 400-meter dash, becoming the fastest Division II athlete ever in the event with a time of 45.93 seconds. It was his third national title in the event, and he will have a chance for four during the 2018 outdoor season.
Pringle was the national runner-up in the 200-meter dash, breaking his own school record and running the fifth-fastest Division II time in history, crossing the line in 20.96 seconds.
The Cincinnati native finished in a tie for sixth in the high jump, clearing 2.08 meters. He also anchored the 4x400 relay, which won the silver medal with a time of 3:10.44. Freshmen Channing Phillips, Trevor Bassitt and Brenden Archer joined Pringle in that race, earning All-America status.
For the women's team, senior Marie Hammer competed in the pentathlon, coming in 13th place with 3,556 points. Her top event was in the long jump, where she finished fourth with a mark of 5.69 meters.
Freshman Gianna DiPippo was 19th in the women's shot put at 13.86 meters.
Romanzak, Cramer Become First Ashland Pair To Win National Title In Same Season
Ashland University wrestling redshirt sophomore Bret Romanzak and redshirt senior Luke Cramer were crowned national champions on Saturday (March 10) night at the U.S. Cellular Center in Cedar Rapids, Iowa.
The Eagles placed fifth as a team at the 2018 Division II Wrestling National Championships. That's the team's best finish since placing fourth in 2002.
"That was a crazy experience," Cramer said. "Our coaches keep us on track and make sure we trust the process, so when we get to the end, we're where we need to be."
Cramer (197) and Romanzak (165) became Ashland's sixth and seventh champions in program history, and the firsts to win titles in the same season.
"It's amazing," fifth-year head coach Josh Hutchens said. "It's hard to even realize what just happened."
Romanzak is AU's first underclassman to win it all since Corey Kline won as a freshman in 1996.
"I've been dreaming of this day since the season ended last year," Romanzak said. "It was surreal to actually go out and live it."
Redshirt senior Jordan Murphy (184 pounds) stood on the podium for the second year in a row. He placed third with a 5-1 record, beating four nationally-ranked opponents along the way.
The trio of Ashland wrestlers didn't lose a match on Day 2, going 7-0.
Top-Ranked Eagle Women Advance to Sweet Sixteen
On Saturday (March 10) night in the second 2018 NCAA Division II Midwest Regional semifinal at Kates Gymnasium, the Eagles (33-0) defeated Grand Valley State (26-7) for the fourth time in 2017-18, 80-68, to move on to the Sweet 16 for the third time in the last four years, and the fifth time in program history. The 2018 Midwest Regional championship game is at home on Monday (March 12) at 7 p.m. vs. No. 3-ranked Drury (31-2).
“Classic March Madness," said Eagle head coach Robyn Fralick, now 101-2 (.981) in her career. "Grand Valley State is a great team, and I give coach (Mike) Williams a lot of credit, because to make it back and have the sort of season they've had with five new starters…they're really good, they're really well-coached. I was proud of our team's fight.”
This marks the first time in Ashland's 51 seasons that it has beaten a team four time in the same season. The Eagles have won nine consecutive matchups with the Lakers.
1. Ashland's winning streak has moved to 70 games, tying Connecticut's women for the fifth-longest in NCAA basketball history, regardless of level or gender. During that streak, seven wins vs. GVSU accounts for 10 percent of the total.
2. The Eagles also improved on the best NCAA Division II postseason winning percentage of any program with at least 25 games, moving to 23-5 (.821).
3. In scoring a team-high 20 points on 10-of-13 shooting from the floor, senior forward Laina Snyder became the first player in program history to post at least 2,200 career points (2,218). In scoring 19 points on 7-of-10 shooting (3-of-4 from 3-point range), sophomore guard Jodi Johnson moved into 18th place on Ashland's all-time scoring list with 1,078 points.
4. All five of Ashland's starters scored in double figures. Sophomore guard Renee Stimpert scored 19 points, while senior forward Andi Daugherty and junior guard Maddie Dackin each added 11. Daugherty tied her sister, current Ashland associate head coach Kari Pickens, for third on Ashland's all-time rebounds list with 903.
5. Ashland forced 30 turnovers in the victory, turning them into 38 points. In four meetings this season, the Eagles turned the Lakers over a total of 104 times. "That's our style of play, and we've stuck with it all year," Fralick said. "Being able to force 30 turnovers tonight was good."
6. Both Daugherty and Stimpert tied the AU NCAA Tournament record for steals in a game with four, one night after Johnson did so vs. Hillsdale. Ashland set a new single-game program tourney record by hitting 54.2 percent from the field, as well as pilfering 18 steals.
7. Two late-quarter runs guided the Eagles to victory. Grand Valley led 31-30 in the final minute of the second quarter before Ashland scored six straight points to take a five-point lead into halftime. At the end of the third, leading 49-45 into the final 90 seconds, the Eagles' 9-3 spurt made it a 58-48 advantage heading into the fourth.
"I thought the run right before half was critical," Fralick said. "It was a game of back-and-forth, back-and-forth. That gave us a lot of momentum going into halftime."
8. After hitting 16-of-35 (45.7 percent) from the field in the first half, Ashland made 16-of-24 (75 percent) from the floor in the second half.
9. Another key for the Eagles in the second half was shot selection. Ashland took 16 shots from beyond the arc in the first 20 minutes, and only 10 in the second 20 minutes. For the game, AU was 26-for-33 (78.8 percent) from inside the 3-point line.
10. For the Lakers, center Cassidy Boensch led all scorers with 27 points and added nine rebounds. GVSU shot 61.4 percent from the floor, and had a 29-17 rebounding advantage.