The 2017 outdoor track and field season began two months ago in the Carolinas.
It will end on Thursday-Saturday (May 25-27) at the 2017 NCAA Division II Championships at the IMG Academy in Bradenton, Fla.
There have been plenty of accomplishments for the Ashland University men and women since, and because of those, 18 Eagles (15 men and three women) will make the southern trip to finish the season. The Ashland men finished second as a team at 2017 indoor nationals, and head coach Jud Logan said that, of course, the expectations are high.
"We're going to try to win," Logan said. "I don't think the team is feeling any undue pressure from the fact that they didn't get that done (indoors). Finishing second was an amazing accomplishment."
Ashland will have five hammer throwers on the men's side, including the top three in Division II in senior Jordan Crayon (69.87 meters/229-feet-3), junior Daniel Roberts (68.95 meters/226-feet-2) and senior Bryn Campbell (65.38 meters/214-feet-6).
"We have never gone 1-2-3 in the hammer (to nationals)," Logan said. "We're poised. We've got a quarter of the field."
"Danny has had an average year in the discus," said Logan. "We need him to have a good meet. He is a really good discus thrower. He could be a wild card."
Sophomore Myles Pringle, the D-II men's 400-meter dash national champion indoors in 2017, returns outdoors in that event, as well as in the high jump and as part of the 4x100 relay team with sophomores Brandon Wilson and Devin Snowden, and senior Brandon Freeman.
"I think Myles needs to feel less pressure," Logan said. "Indoors, he put a lot of pressure on himself. You saw the Myles Pringle that we know when he was dancing while we were waiting for the awards, and that video went viral. That's the Myles Pringle that we need…just the free-wheeling kid, smiling, having fun.
"If he does that, we're going to be fine."
Junior Elijah Talk is the No. 3-ranked shot putter in D-II men's track and field, and the national qualifiers are rounded out by senior Nick Hall (1,500 run), freshman Steven Kapes (10,000 run), Snowden (400 hurdles) and freshman Arthur Greenlee IV (110 hurdles).
Clearly, Ashland's men are a well-rounded group heading into outdoor nationals.
"Our 4x1 is ranked 11th. Ernie (Clark, assistant coach) thinks we can go top eight if we go clean through our handoffs," Logan said. "Who's going to deal well with the heat? We're going to go throw it up against the wall and see what sticks."
"We're building on the women's side," said Logan. "We're two years away from being an NCAA team. We're a year away from being really good. But we go with what we've got. Hannah, this will be her first NCAA Championship. Mackenzie, this will be her first NCAA Championship. And Natalie competed indoors.
"They're going to go fight and battle. All three of them have had outstanding seasons."
THURSDAY 5/25 SCHEDULE
12:30 p.m. - women's hammer - Leigh, Helenthal
3:30 p.m. - men's hammer - Campbell, Crayon, Pop, Roberts, Zak
5:45 p.m. - men's 4x1 prelims
6:10 p.m. - men's 1,500 run prelims - Hall
6:40 p.m. - men's 400 dash prelims - Pringle
8:40 p.m. - men's 400 hurdles prelims - Snowden
9:35 p.m. - men's 10,000 run - Kapes
FRIDAY 5/26 SCHEDULE
5 p.m. - men's discus - Hill, Roberts, Zahn
5:05 p.m. - women's high jump - Bartlome
6:55 p.m. - men's 110 hurdles prelims - Greenlee
SATURDAY 5/27 SCHEDULE
5:05 p.m. - men's shot put - Talk
5:20 p.m. - men's 4x1 finals (if qualify)
5:30 p.m. - men's high jump - Pringle
5:45 p.m. - men's 1,500 run finals (if qualify) - Hall
6:05 p.m. - men's 110 hurdles finals (if qualify) - Greenlee
6:25 p.m. - men's 400 dash finals (if qualify) Pringle
7:30 p.m. - men's 400 hurdles finals (if qualify) - Snowden