Zallow’s eventful season not over

Chad Zallow looked around at his display of trophies.

Horizon League. Florida Relays. NCAA Championships.

They’ve all been great accomplishments, but none is better than staying healthy.

That is a welcome rarity for Zallow, who has been plagued by hamstring problems throughout his career.

“I’ve been working hard this year, trying to take care of my body,” said Zallow, who just finished up his sophomore season at Youngstown State University by finishing ninth at the NCAA Championships in the 110-meter hurdles. “Getting the right sleep and nutrition. It’s really paid off.

“Last year at this time, I never thought I would have the year that I did. This past year has been my most successful year. It’s been a lot of fun. I look back at my trophies and see how much I really accomplished.”

It started with going 13.37 seconds at the Florida Relays and ended with a ninth-place finish at the NCAA Championships.

That start ranked him tops in the nation and No. 2 in the world at the time for the 2017 season.

“After having a great indoor season, I knew I had a lot of eyes on me, trying to see what I can run,” said Zallow, a 2015 John F. Kennedy High School graduate. “Usually I’ve been known as an indoor guy all throughout my collegiate career. That turned a lot of people’s heads.

“It made a statement, letting people know I could do outdoor as well — running one of the fastest times all year.”

He has one last race this season, the USA Track and Field Outdoor Championships in Sacramento, California, June 24-25.

Zallow goes at 2:20 p.m. on June 24 in the first round of the 110 hurdles.

“This will be a good opportunity to compete against some of the best in the world,” Zallow said. “It will be a good thing for me to see what that world is like.”

Zallow isn’t shy about approaching these professional hurdlers. Devon Allen, Aries Merritt, Aleec Harris, Ronnie Ash and Jason Richardson have all run faster than 13.30 seconds.

He’s got some sage advice from them.

“They told me to be patient with everything when I’m out there,” he said. “I try to watch them when they warm up, try to get some tips in there, how they warm up and everything.”

He has no expectations for this meet.

If he makes Sunday’s semifinals at 4:04 p.m., so be it. Same with the final at 5:53 p.m.

“Going into this meet I really don’t feel that much pressure,” Zallow said. “I’m an underdog going in. I’m looking to make a statement.

“I’m trying to turn some heads. I know I’m going to have my hands full. The competition will be there. I’ll try to be competitive with these guys.”

He’ll try to improve his finishes next season, working with around 12 to 15 hurdles in practice and getting stronger in the weight room.

“I’m really excited to get after it in the offseason so I can have a much better year next year,” Zallow said.

He’ll get some much needed down time after this meet to recharge physically and mentally.

Zallow said he’ll even head to Myrtle Beach, South Carolina, with his girlfriend.

“That’ll be great, take my mind off of track,” he said of his break.

Once he gets back to YSU, Zallow said he’ll expect others on the Penguins team to follow his lead.

So far, Zallow has two second-team All-American placements for his ninth-place finishes his freshman year in the 60 hurdles at the NCAA Indoors, and this year in the 110s in the NCAA Outdoors. He also, this past season, finished third in the 60 hurdles at the NCAA Indoors, making him a first-team All-American.

Zallow’s NCAA finishes are the gold standard of YSU track and field.

“Next year, that says a lot for the other guys on the team that you can get the job done here at YSU,” Zallow said. “You have everything you need here to be successful.

“Everyone’s goal should be to go as far as possible, ultimately get that All-American spot.”