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East teammates stand out for Penguins

Correspondent photo / Robert Hayes Jahniya Bowers, center, runs in the 60-meter dash final at Friday’s Ice Breaker at Youngstown State’s WATTS, along with East High School teammate Kyndia Matlock, right, and YSU senior Jaliyah Elliott.

YOUNGSTOWN — The YSU Track and Field program has a tradition of excellence.

Both the men’s and women’s teams won conference titles in both the indoor and outdoors seasons, and the Penguins started off their 2019-20 indoor track season by hosting the YSU Icebreaker Saturday afternoon at the WATTs on the campus of Youngstown State University.

Kyndia Matlock and Jahniya Bowers, both graduates of Youngstown East High School, stood out as the two freshman sprinters both left a good early first impression in their first meet for YSU.

Bowers won the 60m dash final with a time of 7.39 seconds, a mark that ranks second all-time in school history for the event. She also finished 4th in the 200m dash at 24.92 seconds.

Matlock placed 4th in the 60m dash with a time of 7.56, and finished right behind Bowers in the 200m dash at 24.98.

Bowers is proud to run for her hometown.

“I think it was a good decision, I’m progressing, I love it here. I think I made a good choice,” she said.

She’s roomates with Matlock, and Bowers believes that they help push each other to improve.

“At practice we work hard, we say what we do wrong, or if we mess up we help each other and fix it.”

Bowers took home first place in the 60m dash earlier in the Spring in the Ohio Association of Track and Cross Country Coaches Division II/III State Championship.

Matlock is a state-runner up as she finished second in the 100m dash at the OHSAA State Track and Field Championships.

She also competed in the YSU Icebreaker as an unattached runner in 2018 when she was still a senior at East.

Matlock sees herself improving on the track.

“”I’m enjoying it, I’m glad I did (choose YSU), I see improvement. The goal to come in here was to start where I ended at last year, but I did better, so you can definitely see that (sprinters) coach (Dave) Townsend knows what he’s doing.

“Definitely more competition (at college meets), but I can say that I was more relaxed. My teammates helped me with that, especially the veterans of the sport so that was good too.”

As of Saturday evening, Bowers has the second-best time nationally in the 60m dash according to TFRRS. Matlock is ranked 11th nationally in the same event.

YSU coach Brian Gorby was impressed with the way the pair of freshman competed in their first outing.

“We just figured they would be good in a year or a year and a half, not this quickly, so it’s definitely eye-opening, and a pleasant surprise.”

Gorby said that Matlock and Bowers can make their mark on the program going forward.

“We’re in the golden era,” he said. “We’re coming off of Chad (Zallow), the greatest sprinter in the history of the program, and of course (senior) Collin (Harden) one of the greatest to come through our program.”

“And naturally (senior) Jaliyah Elliott, is the fastest, and the first All-American in the history of the program. Now you have two young ladies like Kyndia and Jahniya that basically look like they’re going take the torch and carry it for the next two-three-four years, which makes the whole staff and the whole university super proud.”

He also said that Ellioitt, Bowers, and Matlock, along with sophomore Suerethia Henderson could do something that’s never been done by YSU before.

“Think about the 4×100 relay, Henderson is just as fast as those three, and we may have the possibly in the spring of having the first relay to go a national championship and stuff and compete against Oregon, Ohio State, and Florida,” Gorby said.

“Naturally, it’s pretty cool to have one individual in there competing, but we’ve got the capability and coach Townsend has the capability to do that with four girls in the 4×100. But this is just the starting point, but super happy for and proud of them.”

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