Eagles double down on national championship team titles

AU ATHLETICS

Evan Laux

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Many university track and field teams across the country would kill to have an NCAA national championship title under their belt, but for Ashland University, one alone wasn’t enough.

On March 9, Ashland’s men’s track and field team won its first ever NCAA Division II indoor team national championship outright, and by only one point. That crucial one-point lead was secured by the 4×400-meter team who took fourth place in the event and sent Ashland’s total team score one point above second-place Adams State.

A couple months later, the team upped the ante by winning the NCAA Division II outdoor team national championship (Kingsville, Texas) on May 25 in a similar fashion -by one point. That one-point lead was again earned in the final event of the meet, the 4×400-meter relay to beat out second-place Angelo State.

Ashland is now the first Division II men’s program to win both national titles in the same year since Saint Augustine did in 2014.

“This team in general has been special from the start,” sophomore Trevor Bassitt said. “Everyone’s known that.”

Since the beginning of the 2018-2019 athletic season, coaches, athletes, and students alike have acknowledged the potential and prowess of the team. The accomplishments made this year by the men’s track and field program will no doubt establish it as a notable period of time in Ashland’s athletic history.

For years, the motto “earned and deserved” has been said about the program, a phrase head coach Jud Logan initially coined years ago.

Under Logan’s fourteen seasons as Eagle head coach, the team has had two NCAA Division II National Championships, nineteen DII top-four team national finishes, 48 DII individual/relay national titles, and six GLIAC team championships.

Logan’s motto holds even more weight after considering the hardships the men’s team has faced throughout the 2019 outdoor season.

With Bassitt starting the season late, senior Myles Pringle pulling a hamstring early on, and head coach Logan fighting B-Cell Acute Lymphoblastic Leukemia, nothing was certain for the Eagles.

However, while fighting leukemia, Logan offered up another catchy mantra that the team would once again take to heart: “I don’t need it to be easy, I just need it to be possible.”

In an Ashland athletics press release, Logan was quoted with saying that “that was the finishing philosophy of our team. We went into the last event, and it was possible.”

What gave the Eagles a shot at the outdoor national championship was each athlete going in with this mindset, and placing higher in their events than anticipated.

Junior Alex Hill scored points early on by placing higher than expected in the hammer throw with a third-place finish and distance of 63.46 meters. Hill also scored in the discus, with a fourth-place finish and distance of 55.71 meters.

Bassitt, another key player in the team’s victory, saw an impressive performance after being injured and unable to compete at the indoor national championship. He ran in both the 400-meter hurdle and 110-meter hurdle events and finished first and second-place respectively.

Bassitt’s career best time of 51.39 seconds in the 400-meter hurdles awarded him his first solo-event national title, and second national title overall (2018 outdoor 4×400-meter relay).

“The whole experience of being able to compete and to be able to contribute at the level I did after missing indoor nationals was everything I dreamed of, and I’m so thankful to God for blessing me with the opportunity to glorify him through my performances,” Bassitt said.

Bassitt was also part of the 4×400-meter team, along with Pringle, sophomore Channing Phillips, and freshman Keshun Jones. The team finished in 3:06.12 and took second-place in the event.

Phillips now has four All-American awards while Jones received his first.

On the final day of the outdoor national championship, Pringle won the men’s 400-meter dash national title in 45.61 seconds, placed fourth in the men’s 200-meter dash in 21.25 seconds, and was seventh in the men’s high jump at 2.08 meters.

“Going into the championships I had in the back of my head that this was my last go around and I had to go out with a bang,” Pringle said.

Pringle finished his distinguished collegiate career with with seven individual/relay national titles and 21 All-American honors.

“Competing in college has been all I’ve known for the past four years,” Pringle said. “Having that team atmosphere around me was one of the things that motivated me. It’s bittersweet, but bigger and better things are coming my way.”

Pringle will go down in Ashland history as a major player in the athletics program, and the men’s team will have to compensate for the loss of one of their best.

However, with many distinguished athletes already in the program, and many blossoming up-and-comers, that shouldn’t be too hard.

“Earned and deserved: the Ashland track and field program is exactly that,” assistant head coach Ernie Clark said earlier in the year. “The men have been national runners up four times, and if you go look at the trophy case, you’re gonna see about twenty more trophies. It’s all one-hundred percent earned and deserved.”

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