AU Winter sports season approaches



Senior guard Jodi Johnson drives towards the basket.

Dean Paolucci, Reporter

With the fall sports season coming to a close at Ashland University, the Eagles’ winter sports season is just on the horizon for Great Lakes Intercollegiate Athletic Conference play in the 2019-20 season.

For the AU women’s basketball team, the Eagles were able to win a fourth consecutive GLIAC Tournament title, the first program to do so since Northern Michigan during 1995-98 seasons. A fifth consecutive tournament title would result in the Eagles being the first team to do so since the creation of the tournament in 1996.

The Eagles (29-3, 18-3 GLIAC) ended the 2018-2019 season by falling in the first round of the NCAA Division II Midwest Regional Tournament to the Northern Michigan Wildcats, a GLIAC opponent, 64-57.

The team continues to be led by head coach Kari Pickens, who finished her first season as a head coach last season. Pickens boasted a 29-3 combined record and an 18-3 record against conference foes.

While the team loses guards Maddie Dackin and Brooke Smith to graduation, the Eagles do return senior guard Jodi Johnson.

Johnson began the season off by boasting a team-high of 18.0 points per game and 2.4 steals per game. Johnson received her second consecutive First-Team All-GLIAC award as well as her second consecutive All-GLIAC Defensive Team last season. Johnson also received national honors last season and was inducted into the Division II Conference Commissioners Association Third-Team last season.

The women’s basketball team begins regular season play against Cedarville University at Bellarmine University on Nov. 8 at 12:30 p.m.

The men’s basketball team will also look forward to beginning regular season play for the 2019-20 season.

The men’s team ended the 2018-2019 season with a total record of 23-7 and 15-5 in GLIAC play, earning the team a No. 2 seed in the GLIAC Tournament. The Eagles fell in the quarterfinal round of the Tournament to the Grand Valley State Lakers 72-61.

The Eagles were still able to get an invite to the NCAA Division II Tournament as a No. 5 seed in the Midwest Region, as the second time AU was invited to the tournament since 2016. The Eagles fell in the first round of the tournament to Southern Indiana 66-60, ending the 2019 season.

The team will be led once again by head coach John Ellenwood, who will be coaching in his 11th season for Ashland. Ellenwood, while at AU, has compiled a 171-110 total record and is second in all-time coaching wins behind Roger Lyons with a 246-193 record.

The Eagles lost several key players from last season including guard Ben Haraway. Haraway scored 1,000 career points scorer during his three seasons at AU and was awarded to the All-GLIAC First Team last season.

The Eagles do return a starter with over 1,000 career points in senior center Drew Noble. Noble averaged a career best 17.2 points per game last season, was able to grab 6.4 rebounds per game and was honored to the All-GLIAC First Team last season.

The AU men’s basketball team starts the regular season with a home game at Kate’s Gymnasium against Lake Erie University on Nov. 8 at 7:30 p.m.

The AU track and field indoor team is also looking to start the 2019-20 season off strong, following a season last year that saw the women’s team finishing at No. 11 and the men’s team winning the 2019 NCAA Division II Indoor Championships.

The men’s team returns several national champions from a year ago, including junior sprinter and hurdler Trevor Bassitt. Though Bassitt did not compete during the indoor championship due to lingering injuries, Bassitt was vital to the 2019 outdoor season and to earning the Eagles their 2019 Outdoor National Championship.

The women’s team also returns several vital pieces for national contention, including redshirt sophomore thrower Lindsay Baker. Baker was named as a First Team All-American by the USTFCCCA in both the shot put event and the weight throw event.

The AU men’s and women’s indoor track and field team begin the season at the Kent State Golden Flash Gala on Dec. 6 and 7.

The AU wrestling team is another team that had several individuals representing the university at a national level last year. The wrestling team saw three Eagles travel to Cleveland, Ohio, to compete in the NCAA Division II Nationals, with all three returning this year for another season.
Redshirt junior Tristen Weirich, redshirt senior Brent Romanzak and redshirt senior Christian Price will all return for another season to dawn the purple and gold.

Weirich went particularly far in the tournament, finishing at No. 6 nationally and clinching an All-American status while in Cleveland. Romanzak won the NCAA Super Region Three at 165 pounds last season, which qualified him for Nationals. While Romanzak did compete at Nationals, an injury late in the opening match sidelined Romanzak for the remainder of the tournament.

The Eagles will start the season by travelling to Kent, Ohio, for the Kent State Duals on Nov. 2 at 1 p.m.