In collegiate athletic circles, it's called the "crossover season."
This week in Ashland University, the continuation of the 2016-17 winter season and the continued ramp-up of the 2017 spring campaign is yet another big stretch – highlighted by the Eagle wrestlers competing at super regionals, the AU indoor track and field teams traveling to the conference meet and the Ashland women's basketball team trying to accomplish something that hasn't been done in a half-century of play.
WRESTLING (LINK) – The No. 9-ranked Eagles will find out who will qualify for NCAA Division II nationals when they compete at the Super Region II tournament on Friday (Feb. 24) and Saturday (Feb. 25) in Indianapolis, Ind.
The top four grapplers in each weight class will move on to the 2017 NCAA Division II National Championships, March 10-11 at the CrossPlex – Harris Arena in Birmingham, Ala. In the latest D2Wrestle.com super region rankings, released on Friday (Feb. 17), Ashland is the No. 1-ranked team, and 10 Eagles are ranked individually.
ONE TO WATCH: A three-time All-American, senior 133-pounder Michael Labry comes into super regionals with a career record of 140-12 (.921).
INDOOR TRACK AND FIELD (LINK) – Ashland's No. 1-ranked men and No. 15-ranked women will attempt the dual goals of winning conference gold and improving on national rankings at the 2017 Great Lakes Intercollegiate Athletic Conference Championships, Saturday and Sunday (Feb. 26) in Findlay.
The Eagle men and women each have finished no worse than fourth as a team in all 21 previous indoor GLIAC Championships. Action starts Saturday at 10 a.m. with the women's pentathlon, and ends on Sunday at 4:15 p.m. with the awards presentation.
ONE TO WATCH: Junior Elijah Talk ranks third in the country in the men's shot put after his top mark of 18.13 meters/59-feet-5¾ at the Kent State Tune-Up.
WOMEN'S BASKETBALL (LINK) – The No. 1-ranked Eagles (27-0, 19-0), who already have made more than their fair share of history this season, will attempt to make more in the 2016-17 regular-season finale on Thursday (Feb. 23) at 5:30 p.m. vs. Tiffin (6-18, 4-15).
With a win on Thursday, Ashland will accomplish both a program first by finishing a regular-season schedule undefeated, and a GLIAC first by ending the regular year at 20-0 in the conference.
ONE TO WATCH: In the last four games, junior forward Andi Daugherty is averaging 18.5 points, 6.5 rebounds and 2.0 assists per game, while hitting 60.4 percent from the floor, 60.0 percent from 3-point range and 83.3 percent from the free-throw line.
MEN'S BASKETBALL (LINK) – Ashland (16-9, 11-8) will look to earn a home 2017 GLIAC Tournament quarterfinal game when it finishes the regular season at home on Thursday at 7:30 p.m. vs. Tiffin (11-16, 6-13).
Winners of nine of their last 12 games, the Eagles will get that quarterfinal home game with a win and losses by at least three of the four teams (Lake Superior State, Wayne State, Grand Valley State and Michigan Tech) tied in the No. 3-6 spots in the league standings.
ONE TO WATCH: Freshman center Drew Noble has scored double-digit points in four games this season, all of those coming since Dec. 30 and two of those coming in the last three contests.
BASEBALL (LINK) – Ashland will begin the 2017 season with four games in Nashville, Tenn. – a doubleheader against homestanding Trevecca Nazarene on Saturday at 3 p.m. and a twinbill vs. Alderson-Broaddus on Sunday at 11 a.m.
The four-game set is a precursor to the Eagles' annual Florida trip, in which there are 10 games scheduled from March 3-12.
ONE TO WATCH: Junior second baseman J.P. Sorma hit .381 with 17 home runs, 11 doubles and 59 RBIs in 2016.
SOFTBALL (LINK) – The Eagles start 2017 with five games at the Lewis 2017 Dome Invitational – vs. William Jewell (10 a.m.) and Lewis (noon) on Friday, against Lindenwood (10 a.m.) and Illinois-Springfield (4:30 p.m.) on Saturday and vs. Wisconsin-Parkside (noon) on Sunday.
Ashland will get those five games in prior to its annual trip to Florida over spring break, which will consist of 12 games from March 5-11.
ONE TO WATCH: Head coach Sheilah Gulas, in her final season leading the Eagles, needs one win for 900 in her collegiate head-coaching career.
WOMEN'S TENNIS (LINK) – Ashland (0-12) will play on Sunday at 3 p.m. at Mercyhurst prior to going on its spring trip for five matches in Hilton Head Island, S.C.
ONE TO WATCH: On Saturday (Feb. 18) at Oberlin, senior Meghann Fitzpatrick played AU's two closest matches, losing 6-4, 6-1 at No. 1 singles and 6-3 at No. 2 doubles.