As January ends and February begins, things for Ashland University's 2016-17 winter sports programs are starting to crystalize.
And, with nearly an entire month left in the regular season, it's possible a championship already can be clinched, as the Eagle women's basketball team could claim its sixth Great Lakes Intercollegiate Athletic Conference South Division title in seven seasons this week.
WOMEN'S BASKETBALL (LINK) – No. 1-ranked Ashland (21-0 overall, 13-0 GLIAC) is the first team to clinch a spot in the 2017 GLIAC Tournament, and with a four-game lead over Ohio Dominican with seven regular-season games left, has a magic number of four to win the South.
The Eagles will play three road GLIAC South contests this week – Monday (Jan. 30) at 5:30 p.m. vs. Tiffin (5-13, 3-10), Thursday (Feb. 2) at 5:30 p.m. vs. ODU (14-6, 9-4) and Saturday (Feb. 4) at 1 p.m. against Hillsdale (12-9, 6-8).
ONE TO WATCH: In just 13.0 minutes per game, freshman forward/guard Sara Loomis is second on the team in rebounds per game (5.4) and is tied for first in blocks per game (1.6).
MEN'S BASKETBALL (LINK) – The Eagles (13-6, 8-5) take a six-game winning streak into the new week. Ashland has moved up both the GLIAC overall and South Division standings in recent weeks, and sits just a game behind first-place Findlay in the pursuit of a third straight South title.
Ashland will go on the road for three games this week – Monday at 7:30 p.m. vs. the Dragons (9-11, 5-8), Thursday at 7:30 p.m. vs. the Panthers (11-8, 6-7) and Saturday at 3 p.m. against the Chargers (10-10, 6-8).
ONE TO WATCH: Following a 23-point performance at home against Findlay on Saturday (Jan. 28), sophomore point guard Ben Haraway is averaging 11.8 points over the last eight games.
WRESTLING (LINK) – No. 12-ranked Ashland (6-2) takes a four-dual winning streak into Senior Night on Friday (Feb. 3) at 7 p.m. at Kates Gymnasium vs. No. 7 Findlay. The Eagles are coming off two wins on Saturday (Jan. 28) against Kutztown (25-14) and Lake Erie (35-3).
ONE TO WATCH: Sophomore Chandler Minnard (15-8) recorded a pin and a major decision over the weekend.
INDOOR TRACK AND FIELD (LINK) – The top-ranked Ashland men and No. 11 Eagle women will look to improve upon five automatic and 30 provisional marks for 2017 indoor nationals at the two-day Akron Invitational on Friday and Saturday.
ONE TO WATCH: On Saturday at Findlay, junior Daniel Roberts recorded the 12th-best NCAA Division II indoor men's weight throw in history, launching a top mark of 22.20 meters/72-feet-10.
FOOTBALL (LINK) – The annual National Signing Day is Wednesday (Feb. 1). It is the first day high school football players can sign a National Letter of Intent. Updates will be available throughout the day on Twitter, and there will be a 3 p.m. press conference with head coach Lee Owens at the VIP Room in the Robert Troop Center.