YSU sending six to NCAA prelims
By Dan Hiner
The Youngstown State track and field teams feature a number of Mahoning Valley athletes. Three local Penguins made the trip to Tampa, Fla., for this weekend’s NCAA East Preliminaries at the USF Track and Field Stadium.
Chad Zallow (Warren JFK), Arnaldo Morales (Struthers) and Collin Harden (Girard) are all making a return to the preliminaries. Along with the locals, Tyler Donati Jaynee Corbett and Abby Jones also qualified.
Harden, Jones and Corbett will compete today. Zallow run Friday and Morales and Donati are scheduled for Saturday.
Harden will be the first Penguin to compete — running the 400-meter hurdles. The sophomore finished 17th in the event last season after he shocked the YSU coaching staff and advanced to the quarterfinals.
YSU head coach Brian Gorby said Harden has worked to become competitive, similar to the majority of the athletes on the YSU track teams.
“Naturally we don’t get a lot of No. 1 or No. 2 in the nation,” Gorby said. “We have to kind of develop our kids and be committed.
“We’re excited [to see] what his capabilities are because last year he surprised us at [entering] 38th and made it to the second round and made it to semis. He didn’t make it our to finals in Oregon last year, but it kind of surprised us when he made it out to the second day.”
Zallow, running the 110 hurdles, is making his third trip to preliminaries. He won both of his heats last season and qualified for NCAA Championships in each of his first two years. He placed ninth at the championships in the event last season.
“Third time going through regionals, and I feel a lot more relaxed and comfortable — knowing that I got through regionals and made national,” Zallow said. “Now it’s a matter of staying relaxed and calm, executing and taking it one race at a time.”
To qualify for the quarterfinals, Zallow and Harden need to finish in top three in their heats or run one of the top six remaining times in their event.
Morales has dealt with injuries over the last two seasons. He will compete in the high jump on after being redshirted last year after competing in the meet three years in a row.
Morales finished 25th in the high jump in 2016, 28th in 2015 and 45th in 2014.
“Basically we set up the last two years for this opportunity for Arnaldo,” Gorby said. “He’s putting everything into this season.”
Corbett will participate in the women’s shot put for the third time. She placed 26th last season and 28th in 2016.
Jones, competing in the high jump, is making her first appearance in the preliminaries. Jones holds YSU’s women’s high jump record (1.76m) after she broke the mark in the Horizon League Championships on May 5.
Donati will participate in the men’s javelin. He qualified for the preliminaries for a second straight year. Last season, he placed 44th in the event.
The top 12 finishers in each field event will advance to the quarterfinals, regardless of heat.
“With 12 making it to the next level, this is probably our best opportunity with the quality of the people we’re bringing down here,” Gorby said. “We’ve brought more in the past, but this is probably our strongest and most experienced group we’ve ever had here in program history.”