By Kevin Connelly
It’s becoming increasingly difficult for Youngstown State shot putter Bobby Grace to impress people with his throws anymore.
The senior All-American has a third-place finish at the NCAA indoor track and field championships, the YSU school record, and six individual Horizon League titles on his resume.
“The better you get, the more pressure I guess is put on you, but you gotta just kind of put that aside when you’re throwing and do what I know how to do,” Grace said.
The Penguins standout added a seventh league title Saturday afternoon in another ho-hum, record-setting performance in the league championship meet.
His throw of 19.49 meters in the finals gave him the Horizon League outdoor title and a new league record, breaking the mark he previously set at 18.30 in 2012.
Just another day in the throwing circle for Grace.
“It was a really consistent day for me, nothing huge, but very consistent, so I’ll take it,” Grace said. “I’ve just been trying to build toward [NCAA] regionals and nationals, which is in a few weeks, so I’m happy with it.”
Grace wasn’t the only Penguin throwing his weight around. Teammates John Seaver (17.59), Stephen Lyons (15.70), Jacob Chiclowe (15.63) placed second through fourth, giving YSU the top four spots in the men’s shot put.
The ladies weren’t about to let the men take the entire spotlight on Saturday. YSU took first, second and third in the women’s shot put final, as Jennifer Neider (14.51), Jayne Corbett (13.96), and Ciera Trybend (13.30) topped the podium.
“We were expecting [first] and [second], but then Ciera came in and picked up third, so that was great,” said Neider, who also set a league record, breaking former Penguin Allison Roth’s mark of 14.30.
Some of the other results YSU earned on day two of the meet weren’t as expected.
Sophomore Nina Grambling considers herself a sprinter. So when she came out on top of the women’s long jump, she surprised even herself.
“Everyone has form, they know what they’re doing,” Grambling said of her competitors. “Me, I just run. I’m all about speed, so I just run. I have no form; I don’t go up, I just go like a bullet straight to the sand.”
Grambling wasn’t the only Penguin to come away pleasantly surprised with their performance. YSU freshman Arnaldo Morales finished fourth in the men’s high jump at the indoor league championships, but had his goals set higher this time around.
“I didn’t think I was so high over 2.09 and I was like, ‘Oh, I’m this high... all right let’s go,” Morales said of his winning jump. “It boosted my confidence, big time.”
Morales was the only jumper to pass the 2.09 bar. His teammate, Jay Jakovina, was not as fortunate having to settle for second at 2.06m.
Jakovina was, however, able to redeem himself in the men’s long jump. Sporting an American flag bandana and high socks with the stars and stripes on them, the sophomore knew if he had one good jump in him he’d be able to make a run at the top of the podium.
“Basically I had nothing else to do but go all-out every single jump,” Jakovina said. “First jump of the finals I just kind of used everything I had and went out there and jumped something big.”
His official mark was 6.71, seven-tenths ahead of second place.
The final event of the day was the 3,000-meter steeplechase. Austin McLean and Eric Rupe finished one-two easily, winning by a margin of more than 10 seconds. McLean finished in 9:17.31, just head of Rupe at 9:17.45.
“We set it up where we wanted to run together, work with each other,” Rupe said. “We’re not out there racing each other. As long as YSU’s one-two that’s all that matters right now.”
The Penguins hold a significant team score lead in the men’s events entering the final day of the meet. The women also sit atop the team standings, as they look to win the track and field triple crown having already won the indoor championships and the cross-country title this season.