By Rick Henneman
Both the men’s and women’s track and field teams at Youngstown State University will look to copy the success they had during the indoor season when they take to the track outside. Both YSU teams emerged from the Horizon League Indoor Championships victorious this past February.
The Penguins have started what some would call a dynasty in Horizon League track and field over the last two seasons. YSU head coach Brian Gorby said that there are many factors contributing to their continued success.
“We definitely have recruited a higher level of athletes,” Gorby said. “We went from recruiting the top of Ohio to now moving to the top of the nation. The facilities also make a huge difference. Our old motto was to do more with less and now we are doing more with more.”
Gorby also mentioned that the men’s team is ranked in the top 50 of the nation and that the top to bottom strength of the women’s team makes it one of the best in the country.
The top athletes on YSU’s track and field team will spend this weekend competing at the Pepsi Florida Relays in Gainesville, Florida. The Penguins will run against some of the top programs in the country including the No. 1 ranked Florida Gators.
Many YSU athletes will use this opportunity to improve their marks on the track against some of the best competition in the NCAA. Sophomore Chad Zallow had a record breaking indoor season and looks to improve on his performance from last year.
“I definitely want to make it to the outdoor nationals this season,” Zallow said. “Last year I missed out because of a pulled hamstring. I made indoor nationals this past season and want to continue that success outside.”
Zallow’s brother Carl is a junior on the team and competes in some of the same events. He said that it helps to have someone as fast as his brother to push him on a day-to-day basis.
Senior Chenera Lacey competes in many different events for the YSU women including high jump and triple jump. She is hoping to accomplish something she has yet to do as a Penguin.
“My goal is to make it to regionals,” Lacey said. “I haven’t made it there yet in my four years so it would be nice to accomplish that my senior year.”
Gorby is optimistic for both teams this outdoor season. He said that it is rare for a university to have a track and field program that is strong in every event.
“We have student athletes that are at an extremely high level in all events,” Gorby said. “There are 20 events and it’s common for teams to have areas that they are not strong. It is tough to match-up with Youngstown State because we have a complete team. This has come over the last 25 years.”
Gorby also said that there are some freshmen that have made immediate impacts on their teams and that they are worth looking out for this season.
“Collin Harden just made the junior nationals in the 400 hurdles,” Gorby said. “He was number one in the state of Ohio when he got here and now he is in the top two or three in the country. Jaliyah Elliott for the women’s team was a monster surprise for us. She had a number one time for us in the indoor season.”
Although it is early in the season, some Penguin athletes have already earned Horizon League accolades. Ryan Booth, Taylor McDonald and Jaynee Corbett have been named Horizon League athletes of the week for their performances this past weekend at the Raleigh Relays.