YOUNGSTOWN -- One of the reasons for the success of the Youngstown State football program has been the work ethic of the Penguins in their off-season conditioning program.
The Penguins recently concluded an eight-week pre-spring strength and conditioning session that culminated with 263 personal bests being set.
The man who runs the program is strength and conditioning coach Todd Burkey, who is in his fifth season with YSU.
According to Burkey, the Penguins worked extremely hard during each session and are in great physical shape entering the start of spring practice on April 3.
"Since I have been here, the numbers this group established during testing are by far the most impressive," Burkey said. "Hopefully, we can continue this momentum through spring football and work just as hard over the summer because this team has a lot to prove come September."
Bench press, squatare among the challenges
Five categories were challenged during the testing -- bench press, squat, clean, three-lift total (bench, squat and clean) and vertical jump. The 73 individuals who participated in the workouts combined for 344 tests and set personal bests in 76.4 percent of them.
Setting position records were fullback Regis Edgerson, tailback Monquantae Gibson, wide receiver Tariq Goode, quarterback Vince Gliatta, defensive lineman Jim Phelan, defensive back Chris Goffer and linebacker Jeremiah Wright.
Edgerson had a three-lift total of 1,205 pounds. He and Gibson tied the all-time position clean mark of 305 pounds previously held by Darius Peterson.
Goode, the son of former Penguin standout John Goode (1980-83), tied the wide receiver record in the bench press (345 pounds).
Gliatta established a new bench press mark for quarterbacks with a 350-pound lift, breaking the previous mark of 345 pounds set by Jared Zwick.
Phelan crushed the all-time bench press mark for a defensive lineman by more than 30 pounds. Phelan had a lift of 475 pounds, breaking the previous record of 440 held by Frank Kaydo.
Wright set a new standard for linebackers with a 37.5-inch vertical jump. The previous best was 37 inches by Chris DiMauro.
Goffer's leap tiedschool record for vertical
Goffer tied the school record with a 40.5-inch vertical leap, tying Gibson's mark he achieved in 2004. Goffer's height also set a defensive back record, eclipsing Jason Perry's leap of 40 inches in 2004.
The four individuals who saw the biggest three-lift improvement were defensive back Jarvis Richards (145 pounds), tailback Lenny Wicks (145 pounds), Gibson (140 pounds) and linebacker Nate Ward (140 pounds). Five others increased their multi-lift totals by 135 pounds.
Overall, 40 players lifted more than 1,000 pounds in the three lifts. Eighteen reached the 1,100-pound plateau while five went over 1,200 pounds -- Leon Edwards, Tyler Booth, Pat Walker, Edgerson and Phelan).
Fifteen had vertical leaps of at least 35 inches while three went over 40 inches (Goffer, Gibson and Perry).
Edwards had the highest three-lift total of 1,300 pounds (615 squat, 380 bench and 305 clean). Edwards had the highest squat, Phelan had the best bench and offensive lineman Pat Walker had the best clean (320 pounds).
Penguins squadshave winter woes
As usual, both the YSU baseball and softball teams struggled early in their season.
The baseball team, led by veteran coach Mike Florak, is expected to be a contender in the Horizon League and was 6-9 after losing to Xavier on Sunday.
The Penguins are scheduled to open their home season Tuesday against Bowling Green at 3 p.m. at Cene Park in Struthers. YSU will play its Horizon League games at Eastwood Field and its non-league games at Cene Park.
The softball team, which will host the Horizon League tournament in May, opens its home season on April 1 at McCune Park in Canfield against Wright State.
Pete Mollica covers YSU athletics for The Vindicator. Write to him at firstname.lastname@example.org.