Hurdler Zallow relaxes before NCAA national indoor meet

He has a padded headset with a microphone extended as he’s talking to friends.

The player’s view is a variety of characters with weapons, building objects or shelters and even disguising himself as bush — even in plain sight.

Chad Zallow is playing Fortnite in his hotel room, trying to be the last one standing in this online game.

Tonight, the Youngstown State University junior takes his talents out of the video world and takes the controller in human form.

Zallow, ranked fourth in the nation, is in College Station, Texas, for the NCAA Indoor Track and Field Tournament. The preliminaries of the 60-meter hurdles are scheduled tonight at 7:55, shown live on

Zallow knows a time slower than 7.7 seconds gets him a one-way ticket back to Youngstown.

The John F. Kennedy High School graduate knows his trip to the Millrose Games in New York City, facing professionals and other elite-level hurdlers, prepared him for this trip.

He vaults over the 42-inch hurdles like no other, lifting his under 6-foot frame quickly at the start of he race. Zallow worked the past couple of weeks on the middle and later half of his race, where he saw he needed improvement.

Run a clean race tonight and he’ll be in the finals at 6:10 p.m. Saturday.

“I feel like it has improved a lot,” Zallow said. “I’m excited to see how it goes this weekend.”

Florida sophomore Grant Holloway is the favorite coming into the meet with a seeded time of 7.42 seconds.

The next six are tightly contested with Alabama’s Ruebin Walters (7.61), Illinois State’s Jaylan McConico (7.64), Zallow (7.65), Nebraska’s Antoine Lloyd (7.68), Syracuse’s Angelo Goss (7.69) and Florida State’s Trey Cunningham (7.70).

Zallow won’t be pressing X, O, L1 or R1 on his PlayStation controller during his two races. That’ll be up to his training and how his body responds. He’s going for a Victory Royale, which in human form is an NCAA Championship.

You can bet during his off time, he’ll have his headset and microphone on, relying on his hands and reflexes to win another Fortnite battle.

“I try to just take things day by day by focusing on the prelims and advancing to the finals,” Zallow said. “I brought my PlayStation up here thankfully so I can keep my mind off of the meet and relax by playing video games so I don’t go crazy thinking about the meet.”