If crunch time for Ashland University's men's and women's indoor track and field teams isn't here, it's close.
The No. 2-ranked Eagle men and No. 9-ranked Eagle women will split off for two meets this weekend, with the likely Great Lakes Intercollegiate Athletic Conference Championships-bound group of athletes going to the Grand Valley State Big Meet on Friday (Feb. 8), and the remainder of the two teams going to the Tiffin Dragon Grand Prix on Saturday (Feb. 9).
"We've been in a building phase," said Ashland head coach Jud Logan. "We're traveling with 43 to Grand Valley. We'll probably take 50 to conference, so we've got the majority of our people (there). We're going to rest (senior) Myles Pringle this week. He's due a week off."
With Pringle getting a break this week, this sets up other AU men's sprinters to continue their impressive winters to date.
"As good as it looks on paper right now, no one is satisfied right now," said Ashland associate head coach Ernie Clark. "Right now, on the men's side, they're No. 1 in the nation in the 200 and the 400, but we're not where we want to be. We want to keep progressing."
On the women's side in the sprints, Clark said they are "knocking on the door" of provisional marks for 2019 NCAA Division II indoor nationals, March 8-9 at Pittsburg State (Kan.).
"It's all about being focused and locked in on taking that next step," Clark said. "The reality is, half a second in the sprints is a lot, but at the same time, if your mind is right and trust the process, it's not that much."
For Logan, however, any improvement in Ashland's women's nationals standing is going to be laid at the feet of his young throwers.
"If our women are going to get better, it's going to come from getting more in the weight throw. That's just all there is to it," Logan said. "I was counting on Carrol Pauley being there, I'm counting on Lindsay Baker being there, I'm counting on Taylor Kroll being there. So we need them not to be freshmen anymore. It's been different for them in jersey…but we need to quit competing like freshmen, and start competing like varsity members of the Ashland track and field program.
"Then, that takes the pressure off a Gari (junior Gariana Bercheni), a Sami Duale and a Madeline Kreller, to just go out and think they have to be the next one to get that women's level to where we want to be."
LIKELY ASHLAND UNIVERSITY NCAA DIVISION II INDOOR CHAMPIONSHIPS QUALIFIERS (AS OF FEB. 2)
Sophomore Trevor Bassitt – 200 dash, 400 dash, 60 hurdles
Sophomore Brent Fairbanks – weight throw
Junior Jake Glass – weight throw
Junior Alex Hill – weight throw
Sophomore Channing Phillips – 200 dash
Senior Myles Pringle – 200 dash, 400 dash, high jump
Senior Jim Toth – weight throw
Junior Nick Zak – weight throw
Freshman Lindsay Baker – shot put
Senior Natalie Helenthal – weight throw
Junior Ellie Jindra – high jump
Senior Mackenzie Leigh – weight throw
Junior Paula Wollenslegel – high jump