Penguins Rupe, Hamilton win mile at YSU Invitational
By Joe Catullo Jr.
Youngstown State’s Austin McLean just can’t catch a break.
During the YSU Invitational at the WATTS on Saturday, he set a personal record in the mile, clocking at 4:13.15. However, teammate Eric Rupe was once step ahead, finishing first with a time of 4:10.82. McLean placed second.
“I haven’t run a mile in two years, so I’ll take it,” Rupe said laughing.
McLean wasn’t angry or upset that Rupe won. It just makes him stronger and more competitive, he said.
“It’s beautiful to have a teammate that’s fast,” McLean said. “It kind of gives you something to work for. It’s a nice team effort, and I love having him around. He’s a great guy to train with. I couldn’t ask for much better.”
Rupe and McLean helped headline the meet, which started on Friday and concluded Saturday evening. Coach Brian Gorby said prior to the meet that the men’s and women’s miles were the two biggest events based off the Penguins’ performances at the Penn State National Invitational on Feb. 1.
“We knew we wanted to go again one more time, and it was nice to kind of set it up to go fast with some people in there to push the pace early,” Gorby said. “We got everything out of it today and more.”
Samantha Hamilton won the women’s mile with a time of 4:56.64. She broke the school record in Penn State with a time of 4:53.41 and placed third. The goal for Hamilton on Saturday was to reach 1,200 meters as hard as possible along with building strength for the upcoming events.
“Going into today, we weren’t expecting anything big or anything great out of it, but I had a pacer from Duquesne for the first 600 meters,” Hamilton said. “It went out a little quicker than the game plan was. I was stepping on her heels for the first quarter, so I was definitely ready to go.”
Other YSU winners included Mackenzie Sturtz in the high jump (1.70 meters), Nicole Waibel in the women’s pole vault (3.60 meters) and Marcellus Embry in the 200-meter dash (21.74). All three Penguins are freshmen.
“We brought in 30 solid freshmen, and, boy, we’re seeing that investment pay off real quick and real fast,” Gorby said.
Another freshman that made Gorby happy was McKinsie Klim. The Horizon League cross country freshman of the year placed second in the 5,000-meter run with a time of 17:45.46, which beat Hamilton’s time when she was a freshman.
“She’s been my little training partner this season, and I’m really impressed with her,” Hamilton said. “I really think that there’s going to be some really big things for her in the future.”
The Penguins used Friday and Saturday as preparation for the Horizon League Championships (March 1-2) and three upcoming events. YSU received a good feel for where it stands in the conference with Detroit and Oakland participating. On paper, Gorby said YSU is a solid 50 to 60 points ahead of them.
“Right now, it looks like we’re kind of even with them,” Rupe said. “Hopefully we can put a couple weeks of good work in to be ready for them come conference time.”