By Dan Hiner
The Youngstown State University track and field program hosted its second meet of the season on Friday and Saturday. This weekend’s YSU College Invitational was one of the biggest meets on the Penguins’ schedule.
The meet consisted of 21 teams from Ohio and Pennsylvania and featured programs like Ohio University and the University of Pittsburgh.
The Penguins had 18 participants finish in the top three in 27 events.
YSU swept the men’s and women’s 60-meter hurdles and the shot put. Amber Eles and Chad Zallow won 60-meter hurdles, while Jayne Corbett and Ryan Booth won the shot put events.
Junior sprinter Keishawnna Burts finished third in the 400-meter with a time of 57.70 seconds. Burts also ran a personal best in the 200-meter dash. She finished second with a time of 25.26.
YSU head coach Brian Gorby said the attendance for the event was one of the largest he’s seen since he took the head coaching position 22 years ago.
“The kids were really feeding off the energy. You get 3,000 people in the WATTS, or maybe 4,000, but it was pretty awesome,” Gorby said. “It was kinda like that big time basketball or football atmosphere. All the people were cheering, and our kids were feeding off it well.”
Gorby said the crowd and the support was due to the number of local student-athletes in the program. The program features 38 student-athletes from the Youngstown-Warren area.
Gorby said YSU is starting to become a nationally recognized track and field program, and it’s represented by the larger schools that participated in the meet.
The U.S. Track and Field Cross Country Coaches Association released their first rankings for the indoor season on Jan. 9. The YSU men’s track and field team was ranked 58th in the nation, and third in Ohio behind Ohio State University and the University of Cincinnati.
The next events will be the Penn State National Elite Invitational and the SPIRE Midwest Indoor Open.
The Penguins had performed well at both tournaments last season and Gorby expects the same this season because the same people will be competing in back-to-back years.
Gorby said junior distance runner, Ryan Sullivan, will receive an MRI because of an injury. Gorby said he’s unsure when Sullivan will be back with the team.
He said YSU will be sending more people to Penn State because he has confidence that they can compete at a national level. Gorby said a “handful” of members from YSU will be sent to the SPIRE Open and he expects strong performances from both the men’s and women’s teams.
“The great thing about our program is we are well balanced,” Gorby said. “We have one of the top pole vaulters in Ohio, Carl [Zallow] is one of the top runners and Chad [Zallow] is one of the top sprinters in Ohio. You have Ryan Booth, who’s one of the top throwers in Ohio and now you have Brendon Lucas, one of the top 400-meter runners.”
Both meets are scheduled for Friday and Saturday.