By John Ostapowicz
The Youngstown State University track & field team made its outdoor season debut Saturday, March 19, at the Maryland Invitational.
The highlight of the day was freshman thrower Molly Radcliffe as she set a new school record in the women’s discus throw with a distance of 48.02 meters.
The previous record was held by former Penguin Alison Roth with a distance of 47.58 meters set in 2012.
The Penguins were able to take the top spots in the men’s javelin throw with senior thrower Noah Drudy recording a 62.93-meter mark to earn the top throw in the event. Freshman thrower Weston McLain made his Penguin debut and logged a personal-best distance of 58.50 meters to take the second spot.
In the men’s shot put, junior thrower Dominic Perry took the top spot with a 16.56-meter throw. Junior thrower Zach Gray was able to earn the second-place nod with a 16.16-meter launch.
Helping the Penguins sweep, Radcliffe threw a personal-best of 14.68 meters. Sophomore thrower Lauren Sheehan threw 12.97-meters to earn a fifth-place nod.
Youngstown State continued its dominant performance. Two Penguins were able to place in the top three in the men’s hammer throw. Gary led the event as he logged a 52.09-meter throw for the top effort of the day. Sophomore thrower Austin Clay posted a 44.80 for third place.
In the women’s hammer throw, Radcliffe was the Penguins’ best finisher with a personal-best of 47.86 meters for a sixth-place finish.
Gray finished out the day by earning his third top three finish of the afternoon in the men’s discus event with a 46.46-meter throw.
Because of his efforts in the throwing events, Gray was named the Horizon League Track & Field Player of the Week. His countless hours and months of practice allowed him to compete at a high level and to be named to the high honor.
“I feel like I’m not deserving of the award as a lot of people broke records this weekend, but I am thankful for the opportunity,” Gray said.
Gray has excelled in throwing events over the past years, earning him the title Horizon League Co-Freshman of the Year in field events. His hard work and effort has made him a dominant force.
“I spend most of my time doing drills as well as hitting the weight room, which allows me to get in the mindset to do my best at my events,” Gray said.
In the running events, senior distance runner C.J. Schumacher finished third in the men’s 1500-meter run with a time of 4:04.66. Behind him was senior distance runner Mikel Lagaras as he set a new personal best with a time of 4:04.80 to finish fourth in the event.
In the men’s 400-meter dash, sophomore sprinter Ryan Laird placed third with a personal-best mark of 50.57 seconds. In the 800-meter, freshman distance runner Evan Alten made his Penguin outdoor debut and placed third with a time of 1:56.52.
Freshman distance runner Brody Rupe and sophomore distance runner Jack Aulbach both logged personal-best times in the men’s 3000-meter to finish the event in the top four. Rupe finished third with a time of 9:10.59 while Aulbach placed fourth with 9:24.54.
On Monday, March 21, nine members of the track & field team were named to the indoor Horizon League Track and Field All-Academic Teams and Academic Honorable Mention teams.
Four members of the men’s team were selected for All-Academic status, including senior distance runner Derek Basinger, junior thrower Brock Grundy, Gray and Perry.
In the women’s program, junior distance runner Morgan Cole, senior distance runner Natalie Fleming and senior distance runner Nicole Squatrito were selected to the All-Academic Team.
Sophomore multi-eventer Emily Bee and sophomore jumper Nia Williams-Matthews were named to the honorable mention team.
Youngstown State is back in action March 24-26, competing in the three-day North Carolina State Raleigh Relays at the Paul Derr Track and Field Facility.