Winners, losers and out-right record breakers

Senior Emily Bee leaps over hurdles during the Horizon League Chamionships inside the WATTS. Photo by Dylan Lux / The Jambar

By John Ostapowicz / The Jambar

The Youngstown State University track and field teams hosted the Horizon League Indoor Championships on Feb. 24 and Feb. 25 inside the Watson and Tressel Training Site. 

To round out the championship, the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee’s women’s team snapped the Penguins seven-title win streak, while the men’s team earned its ninth straight indoor title — a streak that started in 2016. 

Youngstown State’s men earned 275 points to set the all-time Horizon League points record, which was last set by the University of Notre Dame in 1985. 

For the Penguins, the men’s squad garnered 91 points on Day One, leading by 65.5 points over Oakland University and 67.5 points over Milwaukee. 

The team earned four event victories to conclude the championship opener. Senior Hunter Christopher won his second consecutive 5,000-meter title, while fifth-year senior Dominic Perry earned his first weight throw title since 2021. 

The majority of the women’s team points came on Day One. In the women’s pentathlon, senior Emily Bee won the event with three individual title wins in the 60-meter hurdles, high jump and 800-meter events to combine for a career best 3,712 points. 

With five events in the pentathlon, Bee said confidence allowed her to win the event while battling an injury.

“To come back, feel strong and confident and to get the top spot, I was proud of myself. I haven’t had that much confidence and I feel that I finally got it back,” Bee said.

To round out the first day of competition, Purdue University Fort Wayne’s sophomore Harrison Niswander bested Youngstown State’s sophomore Owen Brady on the final leg of the distance medley relay by .14 of a second to set a new program record time of 10:04.1. 

The Mastodons have had a career year, as Niswander became the first Purdue Fort Wayne athlete to be named the Alfreeda Goff Indoor Track and Field Men’s Athlete of the Year. 

In response to the award, Niswander said that he is grateful to be recognized for his achievements this season and credits his performance on the track. 

“I was not expecting this at all. I started running fast and I even started to surprise myself out there,” Niswander said. 

Milwaukee’s women’s team earned several event wins to claim its first women’s indoor title since 2015 with 171 points. The championship squad was led by junior Natalie Block, a three-time Alfreeda Goff Indoor Track and Field Women’s Athlete of the Year. 

Block had a career day inside the WATTS, as she broke the facility record in the women’s 60-meter hurdles and won the women’s 400-meter event. 

The men’s team for the Penguins showed out on Day Two, as senior Ryan Meadows had a record breaking time of 8:16.17 in the men’s 3,000-meter to set a new facility and Horizon League record.

Senior Ryan Meadows was the 3,000m Horizon League Champion of 2023-24.

Fifth-year senior Jakari Lomax secured his fifth-consecutive triple jump title and joined Penguin graduate Sean Peterson as the only Horizon League athletes to complete this feat. 

In the 60-meter hurdles, junior Luke Laubacher won for the second consecutive year with a time of 7.74 seconds.

Of the 17 events in the championship meet, the men’s team won 11 and placed second in eight. 

Although the women’s team placed second in the championships, Youngstown State only had one event winner on Day Two, as senior Nia Williams-Matthews won the triple jump.

After the meet, Youngstown State won four 2024 Indoor Horizon League Track & Field Championships Speciality Awards. Brian Gorby, head coach of the track and field and cross country teams, was named Coach of the Year for the 11th time in his career.

Freshman Ryan Tetrick competes in shot put during the conference championships. Photo by Dylan Lux / The Jambar

With the completion of the indoor season, individual qualifiers will be back in action March 8 and 9 at the NCAA Indoor Track and Field Championships in Boston.