By Robert Hayes
“It was like another level of perfection for our program.”
That’s how Brian Gorby, coach of the Youngstown State University men and women’s track program, felt after his teams brought home two more league championships Feb. 23 and Feb. 24 in the Horizon League Indoor Track and Field Championships at the Watson and Tressel Training Site.
It’s no secret that YSU has historically had success in the league meet, as both the men’s and women’s teams came into this season as defending champions, but it can be argued that this year’s performance was dominating on a historic level.
For the men, this is the fourth consecutive year they’ve taken home the indoor title, and the women brought home their third consecutive title and fifth over the past six seasons.
“From an overall standpoint, we’ve got tradition and culture, but this [is] getting to be almost like a dynasty-type situation,” he said.
The men’s score of 238 points set a YSU record and is now second most all-time in league history, only behind Notre Dame’s mark of 242.5 back in 1985. The Penguins’ 110 point margin of victory is the largest in the league since 1989.
It was a similar story on the women’s side, as their score of 193 is the second most in school history, as they would go on to beat Oakland by 40.5 points.
Chad Zallow continued to rewrite the Horizon League and YSU record books, as he would take first in the 60-meter dash (6.69 seconds), 60-meter hurdle (7.69 seconds) and the 200-meter dash (21.29 seconds). He’s the first sprinter in league history to win the 60-meter dash and 60-meter hurdle for four consecutive seasons. His victory in the 200-meter dash is the third time he’s won the event.
Zallow’s time of 6.69 seconds in the 60-meter dash set a new school, Watson and Tressel Training Site and league record.
The last time someone not named Chad Zallow won the 60-meter dash was in 2015 when his older brother, Carl won the event.
A combination of Jamynk Jackson, Brendan Lucas and Josh Beaumont would follow in Zallow’s path, as YSU would claim the top three spots in the three aforementioned events.
Consistency is key for the Penguins, as several other athletes won events in consecutive seasons. Daiquain Watson took first place in the long jump at 7.15 meters for the second straight season. Dylan Latone is the back-to-back first place finisher in the pole vault at 4.75 meters, and Sean Peterson took first place in the 800-meter (1:53:18) for the second consecutive year.
YSU had plenty of other podium finishes, as the men swept the top three spots in the pole vault, due to the performances by Jett Murphy, Macklin Rose and Latone. Watson finished third in the triple jump. Dom Westbay and Brandon Orlando finished second and third respectively in shot put.
Alan Burns took home second in the 5000-meter run, and Cole Lovett placed second in the 1-mile run.
The men’s 4×100 relay team of Pierlus Stewart, Cole Smith, Lucas and Cody Sikora came in second overall with a time of 3:18:17.
First places finishes seemed contagious on the women’s side as well, as YSU took home first place in several events.
Jaliyah Elliott took home two first place finishes, as she came in first in both the 60-meter dash (7.25 seconds), and the 200-meter dash (23.35 seconds). These two times are both new school records. Suerethia Henderson came in second in both of these events with times of 7.58 seconds and 24.33 seconds.
Olivia Jones claimed first on the pentathlon with a personal best score of 3,420 points. During the pentathlon, she finished first in the 60-meter hurdle (9.04 seconds), the high jump (1.67 meters) and the shot put (11.27 meters).
Nicolette Kreatsoulas claimed victory in the weight throw (17.40 meters), Kaitlyn Merwin placed first in the shot put (15.29 meters) and Jessica Stever earned first place in long jump (5.81 meters).
YSU has now won the shot put 14 out of 15 seasons.
Natalie Fleming became the first Penguin in school history to claim victory in the 800-meter with a time of 2:13.37.
Destiny Washington took home second in the 60-meter hurdle. Chontel Fils claimed second in the long jump and triple jump, Nicole Squatrito ran into second place in the 1-mile run, Abby Jones flew into second in the high jump and Kreatsoulas finished in second place in shot put.
Awards were plentiful for YSU, as Gorby was awarded Coach of the Year for the sixth time. Zallow earned both the Alfreeda Goff Men’s Athlete of the Year honor and the Men’s Championship Outstanding Running Performer.
Kreatsoulas was awarded the Women’s Championship Outstanding Field Performer. Henderson earned the Women’s Runner Freshman of the Year, and Olivia Jones won the Women’s Field Freshman of the Year.
Both Zallow and Elliott qualified for the 2019 NCAA Division I Track and Field Championships, which will be held at the Birmingham CrossPlex in Birmingham, Alabama, on March 8 and 9. Zallow will take part in the 60-meter hurdle, and Elliott will compete in the 60-meter dash.
Gorby is ready for the rest of his team to prepare for the outdoor season.
“We talked to the kids and told them to take this good feeling in regard to the situation and understand that when it comes time to work hard again in about a couple days, this good feeling has got to be what motivates and inspires you for the outdoor season,” Gorby said.
No matter how much success Gorby’s faced, it’s still a surprise.
“We’re on to our 38th and 39th championship this weekend, so I pinch myself kinda thinking about how many that is, and naturally we’ve got a shot outdoor of going for 40 and 41.” he said.