2017 IN REVIEW: The Eagle men and women, featuring rosters filled primarily with freshmen and sophomores, went through a transition season. Ashland's men were fifth, and the women seventh, at the Great Lakes Intercollegiate Athletic Conference Championships, then were 19th (men) and 21st (women) at the Midwest Regional Championships.
THE TOP RETURNEE: Junior Kyle Shively is Ashland's lone returning All-GLIAC performer from the fall of 2017, having earned second-team laurels with a 20th-place finish.
LOOKING AHEAD TO 2018: After having a full year of cross country, indoor track and field, and outdoor track and field, last year's freshmen become this year's sophomores – something that excites Ashland head coach Jacob Sussman.
"The freshmen that we had come in last year, cross country was a bit of a shock, and we had so many freshmen," Sussman said, "two-thirds of our team. I think now, they've got a handle on what they need to do and how they need to train. They're going to come in pretty strong for cross."
On the men's side, Shively is the No. 1 runner, followed by another junior, Tyler Sievert. After that, sophomore Nathaniel Redden is a runner who Sussman expects to make a jump in the fall, along with fellow second-year collegians Jake Hall, Connor Ingram and Ian Johnson.
Ashland's women also boast veterans in senior Emily Schumaker and junior Johannah Stefanek, then the youth movement continues with sophomore Raechal Schoenberger, who was singled out by Sussman as a potential "big move" runner with improved health. Junior Haylee Zigan and sophomore Tracy Morgan, both of whom dropped more than a minute off their 6K times from the start of 2017 to the end, will be key performers, as well.
The women's returnees, however, will be pushed by the incoming quartet of freshmen Taylor Anderson, Abby Moser, Destini Oler and Cassandra Ponzi.
"We have four incoming on the women's side, and they're all solid, and they're all going to contribute to the team," said Sussman. "We only had 10 ladies on the team last year, so the increased number of 14 is going to help a lot."
Sussman is looking for a jump in the GLIAC standings this fall.
"An improvement on both sides," he said. "On the men's side, we can move up to that fourth, third spot. On the women's side, fifth or fourth spot. I think both sides will be significantly better than we were last year."