By Mikayla Mustard
The Youngstown State University track & field team hopes the 2022 season will add to its long list of wins. Since 1994, the YSU track & field program has enjoyed 17 conference championships.
So far this season, the Penguins had five straight weeks in the top-15 of the U.S. Track & Field and Cross Country Coaches’ Association, making them the region’s highest-ranked Horizon League team. They’re currently ranked 13th in the Great Lakes Region.
Sprint and hurdles coach David Townsend is in his 10th season at YSU. Since he began, YSU has been nationally recognized.
“The key aspect that separates us from the rest is our recruiting and the way that we train our athletes and the way that they respond and the depth we have on the team,” Townsend said. “We are a team with four talented individuals in each event which allows you to dominate.”
Townsend coached former 2020 YSU graduate hurdler Chad Zallow to be one of the top in the country and carried him to first-team All-American honors and NCAA Indoor Track & Field Championships.
Townsend looks to do the same with some of the athletes he has now.
Penguin newcomer Anthony Woods is utilizing his fifth year of eligibility at YSU to be a part of the program. The sprinter was previously at the University of Cincinnati, where he earned a few school records.
“Anthony came in this year to be a part of our team when we really needed him, his impact was immediately felt. He has run probably in the top 15 times in the world. He brings us into the national spotlight once again,” Townsend said.
In his first appearance in the 200-meter blocks as a Penguin, Woods chalked his third event victory of the season with a time of 21.77 seconds to win the men’s event. Some of his best events include 60-meter: 6.78 seconds; 100-meter: 10.40 seconds; 200-meter: 21.19 seconds. He is nationally recognized for these times.
“It is a really cool thing to be recognized by everybody as a top runner in the country,” Woods said. “It is kind of new to me because I was hurt the past couple of years, and to finally be able to show everybody what I can do is pretty cool.”
In the jumping world, junior Alexis Prater and sophomore standout Emily Bee are coming off successful seasons.
Prater recorded a fourth-place finish in the long jump at the outdoor championships last season and said she’s looking to do even better at this year’s conference championships.
“A huge thing that defines our program is the talent that we have as a team and the way that the coaches are able to make everyone better to progress our talent and be extremely supportive,” Prater said.
At the YSU Collegiate Invitational this winter, Bee ran a personal-best time of 8.87 seconds to finish second. Bee is ranked 10th in the league in the high jump, 10th in the 60 hurdles and seventh in the long jump.
“Before I came to YSU, track for me was very individual,” Bee said. “Coming here and having a team driving me has helped me to be so successful.”
As the indoor season ended, the ’Guins are prepared for another successful outdoor season, kicking off March 18.