YSU College Invitational Friday at WATTS
Penguins will host invitational Friday at WATTS
By Dan Hiner
After being on break for over a month, the Youngstown State track and field teams will be back in action at the Watson and Tressell Training Site on Friday.
The Penguins will host the YSU College Invitational, an event that will feature approximately 50 programs from across the country.
For YSU head coach Brian Gorby, the event will be a nice warmup for the Penguins and will bring in quality opponents.
“We ended up growing from approximately 38 teams [last year] to possibly 50 teams this week,” Gorby said. “It’s pretty much ‘the meet’ in Ohio. We got West Virginia coming in, we got Pitt coming in, Ashland coming in. Pitt and West Virginia, powerhouse DI schools coming into our place.
“Our focus from a meet management standpoint is to put on a great meet. And of course we want to put a great spotlight on our kids this weekend.”
Chad Zallow, a Warren JFK graduate and the nation’s top runner in the hurdles, said he wants to “get back in the swing of things.”
“It doesn’t really matter to me what meet it is, I’m gonna give it my all,” Zallow said. “I think if I by that, that’s gonna get me ready for the bigger meets down the road like Nationals and Horizon League. I’m just gonna focus on each meet individually, and I know if I do that, it will help me out down the road.”
Larger programs will make an appearance at the WATTS. Gorby expects the level of competition to be high and wants to see how the younger runners perform.
One of the Penguins’ young runners is sophomore Jaliyah Elliott, last season’s indoor and outdoor Horizon League Track freshman of the Year. Elliott is the top sprinter in Ohio and will run for the first time this season after missing the early portion of the schedule due to a hip flexor injury.
Elliott will run in the 60-meter and the 200-meter, and has high expectations for the season.
“I kinda have high expectations for myself,” Elliott said. “I know at some point in the indoor season I want the 200 and 60 indoor records. But for now, I’m just hoping to be at where my PR was last semester.”
YSU junior Abby Jones broke the school record for the high jump in the Penguins’ last meet Golden Flash Gala on Dec. 8. Jones said the team’s goal on Friday should be focus on finding consistency.
Gorby said every meet is “a stepping stone” to the Horizon League Championships. He said the Penguins will use events like the YSU College Invitational as a learning experience.
“I think we do a good job of putting them in situations,” Gorby said. “There’s gonna be that pressure, that situation where they could step up. It’s kinda neat to do that at home. In the past we’d have to go to other places to do that.
“This is a stepping stone. This is a one-day meet. [We’re] pretty much just trying to get stuff down on paper.”