Tuesday, January 31, 2017
By Greg Gulas
Under head coach Brian Gorby’s direction, the Youngstown State men’s and women’s cross country and track and field teams have combined to win 29 conference championships, all coming since the programs’ inception in 1991.
They’ve also won three Horizon League “triple crowns” — two by the women — whereby they’ve swept the cross country, and both indoor and outdoor track and field titles in the same academic year.
While speaking to the Curbstone Coaches during Monday’s luncheon meeting at Avion Banquet Center, Gorby was quick to point out that support staff and assistant coaches have been huge factors in their overall success.
“From athletic director Ron Strollo and right on down the administration ladder, everyone has embraced our efforts,” Gorby said. “The key for me, however, is that I have been blessed with a great coaching staff, a group that has had very little turnover. That consistency, as well as the hard work that they’ve put in while running three, sometimes four workouts a day has been a big reason for our success.”
Gorby’s staff includes Rick Penniman (pole vault), David Townsend (sprints), Katrina Brumfield (jumps), John Seaver (throws), Conner Neu (weight throw, who led YSU to the top of the NCAA rankings tops for two weeks in the hammer throw last spring), Nicole Kent Strollo (distance), Eric Rupe (men’s distance) and Ashley Smith (women’s distance).
“No coach has scored a point during any of our 29 championship efforts, yet they remain just as important in having prepared our teams for those crowns,” Gorby said.
Of the 90 student-athletes that currently dot YSU’s six rosters, Gorby’s recruiting efforts have produced 40 all-state athletes and individual state champions that hail from Mahoning, Trumbull and Columbiana counties in Ohio, and also Western Pennsylvania.
“We’ve been blessed with a great facility in the WATTS where we can host meets in upwards of 40 teams every other weekend,” Gorby said. “Those meets usually attract between 3,000-4,000 athletes and spectators so there’s a lot of energy that goes through those doors from December 1 to March 1.”
Both Penguins indoor teams are currently preparing for the Horizon League Championship, set for Feb. 26-27 on the YSU campus.
Two national standouts, Chad Zallow of Warren JFK and Amber Eles of Garfield Heights Trinity, accompanied Gorby and said that everything is on schedule for another championship run.
Zallow was an All-American as a freshman and recorded the fastest national time ever at sea level in the Junior National U19 in the 60 meter hurdles (7.69) this past December. He was a high school national champion in the 110 hurdles, is currently ranked No. 3 in the country in the 60 meter hurdles (7.74) and is the school record holder in both the 60 and 110 hurdles.
“So far, so good as I am hitting my times. I want to improve on those times, however, heading to the indoor league championships,” he said.
Eles is currently the Horizon League’s top-ranked runner in the 60 hurdles (8.57), is a past conference champion in the 100 hurdles and is YSU’s record holder in the 60 hurdles (8.55).
“I feel as if I can take a few more tenths off of my time before the championships,” she said. “I have confidence that I can pull that off.”
Both Zallow and Eles will compete in the Armory Invitational this weekend in Manhattan, New York, an event in which Zallow placed fifth as a freshman a year ago.
Next week, Nate Miklos, YSU women’s golf coach is the featured speaker.