The 2016-17 season for Ashland University's athletic department can be considered a success by many measures.
One of those measures is when it is difficult to rank the season's Top 10 moments – both in narrowing them down and figuring out where to slot them.
For the last two weeks, the Top 10 moments from the recently-completed campaign have been counted down on the various #EagleNation social media platforms. What follows is a recap of those moments in descending order:
No. 10 – Nick Hall's senior seasons. Coming off a redshirt season in 2015-16, Hall came back to the course and the track in style, earning his second NCAA Division II cross country All-American honor (16th, 30:47) and his second and third indoor track All-American citations in the mile run (fifth, 4:08.32) and distance medley relay (sixth, 9:47.00). Hall also qualified for outdoor track nationals in the 1,500-meter run.
No. 9 – Four 1,000-point basketball scorers. Basketball fans saw a lot of points put up at Kates Gymnasium in 2016-17, and four of those scorers – junior forwards Laina Snyder and Andi Daugherty on the women's side and senior guards Boo Osborne and Adrian Cook on the men's side – joined the 1,000-point club. Snyder moved into third place on the Ashland women's scoring list at 1,570 career points, and Daugherty is right behind in fourth with 1,516. Osborne finished his Eagle career in 21st place (1,107), and Cook in 23rd (1,063).
No. 8 – Ashland's new tennis courts. This past season was a fresh start for the Eagle women's tennis team in 2016-17 – not only with first-year head coach Lexi Bolesky, but with the newly renovated and expanded Deborah Liebert Karl Tennis Complex, dedicated on Sept. 11, 2016. Ashland earned its first win on the new courts on April 1 on Senior Day, 9-0, over Mount Vernon Nazarene.
No. 7 – The four GLIAC Coaches of the Year. Eagle athletes earned plenty of hardware in 2016-17, but so did the head coaches. Women's soccer head coach Danny Krispinsky earned Great Lakes Intercollegiate Athletic Conference Coach of the Year laurels in the fall, women's basketball head coach Robyn Fralick did so in the winter and both men's outdoor track and field head coach Jud Logan and softball head coach Sheilah Gulas earned the honor in the spring.
No. 6 – Volleyball returns to the NCAA postseason. Ashland's volleyball team earned a spot in the Division II postseason for the first time in three years, and the third time in five seasons. AU went 23-11 overall and 11-0 at Kates Gymnasium, and the run to the playoffs was bolstered by a 13-1 stretch from Oct. 14-Nov. 19. In the process, senior outside hitters Alli Cudworth (1,739-1,021) and Casey Clark (1,137-1,463) became the first set of Eagle teammates to join the 1,000-1,000 (kills-digs) club.
No. 5 – Gulas bids farewell. Gulas, Ashland's head softball coach for 21 years and also the Eagle athletic department's Assistant Athletic Director/Senior Women's Administrator, led the Eagles to a 30-23 record and within two wins of a GLIAC Tournament title. She finishes her Hall of Fame career (she goes into the National Fastpitch Coaches Association's Hall of Fame in December) with 723 wins at AU and 929 wins overall in 31 seasons. The GLIAC Coach of the Year honor was her fourth.
No. 4 – Labry goes out on top. A steady and consistent climb to the top of the Division II ladder in 133 pounds resulted in senior Michael Labry ending his career with a national championship in 2016-17. Going 35-1 in his final season, Labry not only became the Eagles' first national champion in 21 years, he also became the program's all-time wins leader with 147. His career winning percentage is an off-the-charts .925.
No. 3 – Men's track and field indoor and outdoor seasons. The Eagle men's track and field program was consistent from beginning to end in 2016-17. Indoors, Ashland's men finished second in the country and third at the GLIAC Championships. Outdoors, they were tied for third in D-II and won the GLIAC title. Individually, sophomore Myles Pringle won a national title in the 400-meter dash both indoors and outdoors, and junior Danny Roberts took home nationals gold in the hammer throw outdoors.
No. 2 – Shaheen gets drafted in the second round. Ashland junior tight end went from D-II record-breaker in the fall of 2016 to draft-eligible player by January of 2017 to second-round draft pick by the Chicago Bears by April of 2017. Taken with the No. 45 overall pick by the Bears in the 2017 National Football League Draft, Shaheen caught an Ashland-record and NCAA Division II single-season tight end-record 16 touchdown passes as a junior in 2016, and grabbed a school tight end-record 70 passes as a sophomore in 2015. Shaheen is the highest-drafted Eagle by the NFL by a margin of five rounds.
No. 1 – Women's basketball goes undefeated, wins second national title. The Eagle women's basketball team not only went 37-0 and won its second Division II national championship in 2016-17, but it also turned in the best D-II women's hoops season in history. Ashland's women won the most games without a loss in a D-II season, and also scored the most points in D-II women's hoops history (3,456). The Eagles' six NCAA postseason wins were by an average of 17.2 points.