Hurdlers leading class of 2013

Welcome to the year of the hurdler. This year’s track and field season has plenty of quick relays – sprint and distance – throwers, sprinters, jumpers and distance runners. It’s a plethora of talent – not surprising for this area.

However, the one thing people will remember about the 2013 season is hurdlers – two in particular are LaBrae senior Megan Gunther and John F. Kennedy sophomore Chad Zallow.

Both have been standouts in the indoor season and want to carry that through to April, May and early June.

Gunther has already got off to a good start by winning MVP honors at Friday’s F.E. Cope Invitational at Reilly Stadium in Salem, winning the 100- and 300-meter hurdles. It was Gunther’s second straight 100 title at the Cope.

“I do want to get my times down as the season goes on,” Gunther said. “I think for the first meet I did pretty well today. I was really excited because I got MVP.”

Zallow’s outdoor season starts today at the Joe Lane Invitational in Mineral Ridge.

He’s not concerned about first-place finishes for now. Zallow is focused on the second weekend in June – the state meet in Columbus.

“It’s more like practice for me, to get ready for the bigger event, bigger meets to come,” Zallow said. “The main focus is going to state. All these small meets don’t matter. I’m focused on county, district, regionals and state. These are just little practice meets.”

Trust me, he’s not being cocky. If you put the same emphasis on meets in April as you do when you enter districts in mid-May, more often than not your season ends in mid-May.

Everything prior to districts is practice and time to avoid injuries.

Gunther is on pace to peak late in the season. Her hurdle coach Jeffery Jenkins has her on track to do so.

“I want to peak when regionals roll around and get to state finals,” Gunther said. “My coach is really good about the cycles that you have to go through to train a runner so to peak at the right moment. I kind of depend on him for that.”

Both hurdlers favor the sprint of the respective 100 and 110 hurdles, feeling the exhilaration of the speed. Both want nothing less than a respective Division II title for Gunther and Division III title for Zallow.

The 300 hurdles, that’s another story. Both are very accomplished in the event.

Zallow said he has the speed for the event, but the endurance is another thing.

Gunther said the first few hurdles give her fits.

“I tend to stutter my first couple of hurdles. It’s been a really hard time to try to get rid of that,” Gunther said. “First couple of hurdles, I’ve had a really hard time doing that. Then the rest of the rest I’m pretty good.”

Both could be the kindling of a firestorm of state champions to come from this area in early June.