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YSU signs focused East track standout Hayes

Tobias Hayes wants to take his 6-foot-2, 200-pound body and glide over hurdle after hurdle.

School is no longer in session, at least through the end of April because of the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic. The East High School senior would be training, readying himself for the start of the outdoor track and field season.

Hayes cannot wait until he’s back.

“He’s antsy. He’s been trying to get in,” said East track coach Kevin Cylar. “He wanted me to sneak into school and get some hurdles.

“He’s a great kid. Works extremely hard, really driven, a joy to coach, he does everything you ask of him. I don’t know of a perfect situation. Always respectful. He’s a model for all the other young kids to watch. I know a lot of people get on there and say their guy is great. This kid really is.”

Hayes’ work ethic didn’t go unnoticed and neither did his accomplishments on the track as Youngstown State University offered him a scholarship to run for the Penguins’ track and field team next season.

Hayes also had offers from Akron, Kent State, Kentucky, Tiffin, Ashland and a few other NCAA Division II schools.

“We’ve had coaches from other schools say that’s a heckuva sign for us,” YSU track coach Brian Gorby said.

The East senior cannot wait until he’s part of the Penguins, who have dominated the Horizon League the last couple of years in the indoor and outdoor championships.

Hayes wants to keep the Penguins’ winning ways alive.

“I want to be a big help,” Hayes said. “I’m open to any relays, just trying to get to NCAA Nationals.”

He has the right body type to be a great hurdler.

Hayes and YSU freshman Cole Smith could be a great tandem for the Penguins the next couple of years. Gorby, whose team had its outdoor season canceled due to the COVID-19 outbreak, is hopeful that Girard graduate and YSU senior Collin Harden returns after the NCAA granted an additional year of eligibility for spring sports student-athletes. Harden is one of the leaders of YSU’s dominance in the Horizon League.

“If everything goes right, he will get to train with Collin next season,” Gorby said. “Him and Collin are the same body type.”

Hayes finished this year’s Ohio Association of Track and Cross Country Coaches indoor state meet with fifth-place finishes in the 60- and 200-meter dashes, along with the 60-meter hurdles. He ran personal best times in each of 6.99 seconds (60 dash), 22.14 (200) and 8.15 (60 hurdles). He ranks in the top 12 in Ohio in all three.

Hayes finished fifth in the 200 dash at last year’s Division II boys state track and field outdoor championships.

Cylar said his senior athlete has just the right mix.

“He’s a better young man than he is a track athlete,” Cylar said. “His ceiling is high. He might hit 20 (seconds) this year in the 200, which is phenomenal.

“The sky is the limit. I think he can jump in the 300 (hurdles) tomorrow and win a state championship. He’s an all-around athlete. We have to be smart about what we do with him in our quest to get some gold there at the state championship this year.”

This season — if there is a season — Hayes wants to be on the outdoor state podium (top eight places in each event) in hurdles and dashes.

“I’ve been planning this ever since I’ve been talking to my coaches,” Hayes said. “I know I have the potential and it can go a long way.”

Former John F. Kennedy and YSU standout Carl Zallow is on East’s staff, ready to help Hayes reach his goals as well.

“That’s where training comes in, to get to that level to win state,” Hayes said. “That’s what I want to do right now.”

The East senior has set his goals. Cylar plans on watching Hayes achieve them.

“He’s pushing you as a coach more so than you pushing him,” Cylar said. “He’s going to get after it.”

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