Earned and deserved.
If you've spent at least 15 minutes around the Ashland University track and field program, that phrase most likely has been heard.
In the 40 years since then-Ashland College made the move to NCAA Division II affiliation, its track and field program has earned dozens and dozens of national championships, individuals and relays.
Until Saturday (March 9) night, however, a D-II team national title had been elusive. Six second-place team finishes between the Eagle men and women, indoors and outdoors, served notice that, at some point, Ashland was going to break through and stand at the top of the podium as a team.
Some point came Saturday night. And it came by a slimmest of margins – by one point, by one one-hundredth of a second in the final event of the national meet.
They don't ask you how. They ask you how many. And now, that number is one.
Head coach Jud Logan has spoken frequently over the years of how he wants Ashland's track and field program to be just that – a complete, well-rounded program. Putting together a coaching staff of associate head coach Ernie Clark, jumps/multis coach Abby Majesky, director of operations Jacob Sussman and volunteer assistants Elijah Talk and Denny Steele, the Eagle coaching staff covers all the bases.
Which is how you have just enough team points and a just-fast-enough time in the 4x400-meter relay to win a national championship.
Of course, it also doesn't hurt to have some of the top athletes in the history of D-II men's indoor competition, either. Senior Myles Pringle is the preeminent 400 dash runner in Division II history. Junior Alex Hill and sophomore Brent Fairbanks are two of the top weight throwers all-time at this level.
This national championship is for Logan, certainly. It's also for the entire coaching staff. It's also for the athletes. It's also for the rich tradition of the program – for Bill Gallagher, Dave Smalley, all the way back to Gil Dodds, and everyone else inbetween.
Logan, a four-time United States Olympian, has been at Ashland for 25 years, first as an assistant, and of course, now as head coach. In that quarter-century, his throwers have accounted for 47 D-II national titles.
Now, he is a national-champion head coach.
Earned and deserved indeed. Earned and deserved indeed.