Ashland University's men's indoor track and field team won its first NCAA Division II indoor team national championship outright by one point.
Or, more accurately, by one one-hundreth of a second.
In the final event of the 2019 NCAA Division II Indoor Championships on Saturday (March 9) night at Pittsburg State (Kan.), the Eagles' men's 4x400-meter relay team took fifth place by crossing the finish line in 3:10.80. Those four points earned by senior Myles Pringle, junior Paul Murray, sophomore Channing Phillips and freshman Brayden Chaney gave Ashland 38 as a team – one more than second-place Adams State.
"I have followed my team through this entire season," said Ashland head coach Jud Logan, who was unable to be with the Eagles at nationals due to a personal health situation. "Regardless of me being there or not, our kids were on a mission to manifest our moments of significance. I am incredibly proud of associate head coach Ernie Clark and how he kept our team together in my absence.
"This one is for Eagle Nation."
Said Clark, "I talked to the guys about how every ounce was going to count. It was about passion, desire, heart. It needed to be about our team, our program, people of the past, friends and family. We wanted to lay it all out there for all those things and Jud, but not just Jud – the program that he had built.
"We knew if we could place fifth or higher, we could win this thing."
Ashland finished in fifth by one one-hundreth of a second over sixth-place Grand Valley State. Had those placements been reversed, the Eagles and Grizzlies would have tied for the team title.
"We beat Grand Valley, so I'm happy about that," Pringle said. "I've been grateful for all the opportunities I've been given. Everybody at the beginning of the weekend, everyone said, 'This is the last indoor meet of your career. You have to go out with a bang.' This is my last year, and I like to think I made my mark."
For Pringle, it is his 17th D-II All-American award, Phillips' third, and Chaney and Murray's first each.
Earlier on Saturday, Pringle made his own history, as he won his sixth national title after crossing the finish line in the men's 400 dash in 45.67 seconds. That time is the fastest in Division II history.
"I was really pleased that he's not just able to win, but run that type of time all by himself," Clark said. "He said, 'I'm just going to do my race.' And he did just that."
Two Eagle women's athletes each earned their first All-American honors on Saturday.
In the women's shot put, redshirt freshman Lindsay Baker finished as national runner-up with a top heave of 15.90 meters/52-feet-2. The women's high jump saw Ellie Jindra place sixth with a top effort of 1.74 meters/5-feet-8½.
With just four athletes at nationals, the AU women finished with 16 team points, good for an 11th-place team finish – their highest national placement indoors since 2015 (tied for third).
THE CHAMPIONSHIP BREAKDOWN (38 TEAM POINTS)
- 10 points, 400 dash (Pringle first)
- 5 points, high jump (Pringle fourth)
- 4 points, 4x400 relay (fifth)