By Chris McBride
The Youngstown State men’s and women’s track and field hosted the YSU College Invitational this past Friday inside the Watson and Tressel Training Site.
Thousands of athletes competed from over 50 different teams with the event being scored as a dual meet for Division-1 programs in attendance. It was the first meet of the year for the indoor season for YSU in 2018.
“Last weekend was the biggest meet of the year, the biggest meet in the history of the program,” YSU Track and Field Coach Brian Gorby said, something that went beyond his expectations.
“We had 2,000 athletes, we started at 12:00 [p.m.]. We thought we may finish at 1 a.m. because we never had that many athletes,” he said.
With such an immense turnout, Gorby considers it a testament to the Youngstown State team that so many schools want to come here to compete.
The Penguins kept YSU’s winning tradition alive.
One of the bigger stories of the event was the performance of YSU’s junior high jumper Abby Jones. Back in December, she tied the school high jump record at the Golden Flash Gala.
This time around, Jones set the standard clearing the 1.71m bar, a feat three other competitors tried and failed.
Gorby praised the upperclassmans’ continuous growth and ability to get better year after year. Her strong showing also helped earn her Horizon League Women’s Field Athlete of the Week.
Another upperclassmen making waves was also putting his talent on display.
Chad Zallow, the current number two ranked hurdler, took home first place in the 60m high hurdles timing out at 7.77 seconds. Finishing behind him was Malone’s Ashton Dulin trailing by 0.3 seconds.
Keeping up the winning tradition for YSU, Amber Eles, with a time of 8.56, won the 60-meter dash. Jaliyah Elliott narrowly captured the win in the 60m dash with the time of 7.61 seconds with 0.1 seconds separating her from the pack. Keishawnna Burts took first in the 200m dash clocking in at 24.74 seconds.
Zallow and Burts both received Horizon League Men’s and Women’s honors as Runners of the Week.
“We graduated some great athletes so we needed some freshmen coming in and stepping up for us,” Gorby said.
YSU also had some newcomers come up huge.
After losing senior talent from the previous season, the YSU track and field team has managed to secure more incoming freshman talent to add to their repertoire. At the Invitational, a few freshman delivered some noteworthy performances to begin the year.
Sprinter Teneisha Myers finished fifth in the 400m dash with a time of 57.92 seconds. Jumper Daiquain Watson from the Altoona area earned fourth in the long jump with a distance of 6.68m. Another standout freshman performance came from yet another jumper Noah Bayus who finished fifth behind Watson with 6.65m.
“If you look across our entire team it seems like every year we’ll have another four or five top freshman come in,” Gorby said. “We’ll lose some great seniors but we don’t usually have to worry about waiting for development.”
“When you’re bringing in four or five state champs they’re not just good in the area or region, they’re good in the whole state of Ohio or PA,” Gorby said.
Gorby says reloading and retooling has become a part of the process for the team, a feat that keeps them on top year after year.
With strong showings from such a young group of athletes, it’s hard not to think that the dynasty talk about YSU Track and Field may be true.
Next, the team travels to New York City to participate in the Dr. Sander Invitational/Armory Challenge set to take place in the New Balance Track and Field Center at the Armory on Friday.