So, you're one of those people who fear the Ferris wheel having a malfunction and you're sitting at the top of the wheel where it feels like you're close enough to touch the sun. The moment you step on a plane you get sweaty palms, a queasy stomach and you do everything in your power to avoid a window seat.
Instead of Dramamine maybe you need to talk to the Ashland University winter sports teams. When it comes to heights, the Eagles have no issues.
AU's winter sports teams have just crossed the mid-point of January and they are climbing the ladder of success at a pace that hasn't been seen for a couple of seasons. Six AU teams are ranked in the Top 20. Individuals rank among the nation's elite.
"I think it's fantastic that our athletic teams are getting this type of recognition," said AU director of athletics Bill Goldring. "It's a testament to our coaches and the type of student-athletes they are recruiting to Ashland University. As we continue to grow as an athletic department, with the support of this institution, we want to continue to have success both in competition and in the classroom. We want to bring good news."
For much of this winter season, the newspapers and airwaves have been filled with positive reviews. At times it has seemed like one team wins and the next day, another team does everything it can to top the latest achievement.
"I think success breeds success," Goldring said. "It spreads not over just the winter sports teams, but in all our activities. I think that's especially true in a small school environment where all our coaches and student-athletes know each other and support each other."
A review of where the Eagles stand this winter follows.
Women's Basketball – AU is 14-1, 8-0 in the GLIAC. The Eagles are tied for 12th in this week's Top 25 poll. That's the highest ranking in head coach Sue Ramsey's 17 years on campus. The Eagles own a school-record 14-game winning streak and they are the lone GLIAC team that is unbeaten in conference play. No team in the region is ranked higher than AU. Junior forward-guard Kari Daugherty (Fresno, Ohio/Dayton) leads the GLIAC in scoring and rebounding and is one of the most productive players in the nation. She recorded a triple-double earlier this season, the first in school history.
Men's Basketball – Head coach John Ellenwood is in his third season at Ashland and he's spent the past several seasons stockpiling talent. His work on the recruiting trail is beginning to pay off. The AU men have a five-game winning streak, their longest since the 2009-10 season. The last time they had a six-game winning streak was in 2005-06. The Eagles are 9-6 overall and during their winning streak, knocked off nationally-ranked Findlay and slowed down Edinboro, a team with one of the most high-powered offenses in the nation. Center Evan Yates (Cincinnati, Ohio/Walnut Hills) leads the country in rebounding and is one of the best inside players in nation.
Wrestling – Ashland is ranked 18th in the country. The Eagles are 3-1 in dual meet action and last weekend, defeated two nationally-ranked teams – King (11th) and West Liberty (14th). Earlier this season, the Eagles were eighth in the country. Head coach Tim Dernlan, in his fourth year at the helm of the program, has four freshmen in the lineup. Take that group of newcomers and combine it with a solid veteran nucleus led by 285-pound senior Jacob Southwick (Bowling Green, Ohio/Otsego) and the Eagles have very few holes in their lineup. Southwick was an All-American last season and is ranked third in the country this year.
Swimming and Diving – In the last national poll, the Ashland women were ranked ninth and the men were ranked 15th. The women's 200 free relay has won two consecutive national championships. Last year, the women finished fifth at nationals, the best placement in the program's history. The men were 11th. In addition to that gold medal performance by the 200 free relay, the women's 400 free relay was third at nationals.
Head coach Paul Graham is in his 12th season.
Track and Field – Both AU teams are ranked fourth in the country in this week's national rankings. The GLIAC is ranked as the toughest track and field conference in the nation for both men and women, so to be leader in that bunch says a great deal about AU's power.
The indoor season is still young, but the Eagles are already in the process of making arrangements to send student-athletes to the national championships in March. Senior Ryan Loughney (Grahamsville, N.Y./Tri-Valley) has the second longest throw in the country – all divisions – in the weight throw. Loughney won a pair of national champions a year ago and the AU men finished in a tie for second a year ago at nationals. That's the highest finish in school history. Senior Kelly Ash (Coshocton, Ohio) has automatic qualifications in the shot put and weight throw. Currently, the Eagles have nine automatic berths secured.
Both AU teams are coached by Jud Logan. He's in his seventh season as the head coach of the Eagles.