YSU track sweeps Horizon League championship
Youngstown State men, women sweep conference championship
By DAN HINER
For the first time in Youngstown State history, both the men’s and women’s track and field teams are the Horizon League’s indoor champions.
Sunday was the final day for the conference championship. Both YSU teams entered the day with slight leads over Oakland, but runners like Warren native Chad Zallow helped extend the lead throughout the day.
Zallow said he usually focuses on the 60-meter hurdles, but that didn’t stop him from setting the Horizon League record for the 60-meter dash after running 6.77.
He also won the 200-meter dash with a time of 21.50 and the hurdles with a time of 7.61.
Sunday’s win marks the first time the Penguin men have won back-to-back Horizon League Indoor championships and the third indoor championship in program history.
On the women’s side, Amber Eles won the 60-meter hurdles with a time of 8.44. Taylor Thompkins and Jayliyah Elliott both placed first and second in the 60-meter dash and the 200-meter dash.
Despite losing last season, the women’s team has won three of the last four indoor conference titles. The women’s team lost to Oakland by four points last season. Gorby said the women’s title helped make up for finishing second last season.
“When you have two girls go down, with just fluke things—one hasn’t hit a hurdle her entire life outside of practice and another just falls down,” Gorby said. “You felt for those two people and you felt for the girls, but everything happens for a reason.
“Maybe that’s a reason. Our team is resilient in regards to coming back. They weren’t going to be denied this year.”
YSU junior Ryan Booth —a Mineral Ridge graduate— won the shot put for the second time in as many seasons. Booth said he credits coaches like former YSU field star Conner Neu for his development.
“It’s crazy to think that I wasn’t all that great in high school,” Booth said. “I just had great mentors and coaches along the way from Mineral Ridge to my first coach here and now I have two great coaches that used to be on the team. They’ve just helped me along the way.”
Boardman graduate Brendon Lucas was named the Horizon League Freshman of the Year during the award ceremony following the events. Lucas finished second in the 400-meter after running 48.86, 0.02 seconds behind the lead.
“Going in, I knew I wasn’t seeded first before prelims. I came in for finals, I really wanted to win the 400, but my main competition was in the first heat,” Lucas said. “I’m not complaining. I’ve been battling injuries all season.
“Just being able to come out here still, and produce at a high level and help the team win another championship was big for me. Coming in, I was told I could come in and make big contributions and I love it here.”
Other local graduates won conference awards as well. Struthers graduate Arnaldo Morales was named the Co-Horizon League Championships Outstanding Performer in field events. Zallow was named the Athlete of the Year and the Horizon League Championships Outstanding Performer for running events.
Morales placed first in the high jump and eighth in the triple jump.
YSU now has 31 championships between the men’s and women’s programs. Zallow said Sunday’s titles are a reflection of how the program has developed and how far the program can continue to grow.
“It definitely says a lot about the program,” Zallow said. “The program’s on the up and up every year. We keep on getting better and better. It’s a good thing and we’re just gonna keep building on this for the future.”