Don’t look now, but champion ship fever has infected the campus of Youngstown State University this spring with enormous potential to spread even more wildly in coming days.
Amid the frenzy of semester-ending projects and final exams and in the thick of an emotionally charged national search for a new university president, YSU’s talented crews of spring athletes are doing their part to electrify the campus and community even more.
Just last weekend, the YSU women’s tennis team captured the university’s first Horizon League championship in its history by unseating the University of Illinois at Chicago at the league finals at the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor, Mich.
Considering that the UIC team had locked up Horizon League championships every single year since 1996, the Penguins’ upset was no mean feat.
Margarita Sadovnikova from Russia — beloved by many YSU fans — teamed up with supercharged standout Carolyn Jesko of Boardman for a doubles victory, then Sadovnikova defeated Cleveland State in two close sets to help the Penguins win 4-2 in the league championship at the Michigan Varsity Tennis Center.
The tennis team now advances to the NCAA Women’s Tennis Championships against Virginia next Friday. Joining the Penguins in the four-team Charlottesville Regional are Kentucky and Columbia.
This year’s championship ends a Cinderella journey for Sadovnikova and other senior players. Only a matter of years ago, the squad struggled to recruit sufficient players for a team. Today, that team is a proud, talented and cohesive powerhouse and the envy of its league.
TEAM MAKES HISTORY
“Finally we made history. I still cannot believe that we actually won,” Sadovnikova said. “I was the last one to finish it, but I think everyone put in great efforts. It’s not only me; it was the entire team.”
To be sure, teamwork once again has brought glory to the university, a university known for rugged athleticism, including the four national football championships under former head coach Jim Tressel, who today stands as one of three finalists to become YSU’s ninth president.
An additional dose of glory may come this weekend when YSU’s stellar outdoor field and track teams host the Horizon League championships on campus. The Vindicator has closely watched the superlative talents of the team and this week awarded senior track and field runner Ciara Jarrett and senior track and field thrower Bobby Grace the YSU/Vindicator Athletes of the Year award for 2013-14.
Jarrett and other members of the women’s team, already conference champs in indoor track and cross country, are in hot pursuit of and emerge as heavy favorites to complete running’s triple cown at this weekend’s league events.
The men’s team isn’t too shabby either. In fact, Vindicator sports writer Joe Scalzo reports the Penguin men are positioned strongly to win their first conference championship since 1997.
We wish best of luck as the women’s tennis team advances to the NCAA finals next weekend and as YSU’s men’s and women’s track teams line up to grab league titles this weekend.
As always, the victories and laurels that these dedicated, energized and committed young people achieve have ripple effects that bring broader honor to themselves, their university and their community. We congratulate them all.