YSU track and field, lacrosse teams honored
BEAVER TOWNSHIP — Since taking over the reins of the YSU men’s and women’s cross country teams, as well as the track and field teams in 1994, head coach Brian Gorby has led those six programs to a combined 51 league championships, watching multiple student-athletes advance to the NCAA championships.
This past spring, head coach Theresa Walton also guided her women’s lacrosse team to their first ever league title, winning the Mid-American Conference regular season crown in just the second year of the program’s existence.
Both coaches shared the story of their seasons to the Curbstone Coaches during Monday’s weekly luncheon meeting at Avion Banquet Center.
“In my eyes, I have a staff that is second to none,” Gorby said. “They are a group who remain very passionate about our program. Our student-athletes respond to them and our facilities are some of the very best in the nation. That all helps when you hit the recruiting trail.”
While Gorby has been rewarded with Coach of the Year laurels on 50 of those occasions, Walton earned her first MAC Coach of the Year honor while Natalie Calandra-Ryan was tabbed conference Freshman of the Year. Both Calandra-Ryan and Aryss Lindsey were first-team all-league selections.
The Penguins shared the lacrosse regular season title with both Central Michigan and Robert Morris but fell to the Colonials in the MAC tournament semifinals.
“After what we would like to call year No. 1 of our lacrosse program, we can tell this team had the potential and eagerness to continue to elevate our level of success. They have no plans of slowing down,” Walton added. “Beating every conference opponent this past season at least once gave us even more hope than we already had in ourselves. It left our players heading into the summer knowing and believing that they can get it done. That was our first message to every single recruit that stepped on campus, a message that they will win a MAC Championship as a member of our program.”
In 2021, Walton’s very first varsity roster included 18 freshmen, a red-shirt sophomore and just one senior.
Her roster next year will boast 27 returnees with nine first-year players ready to defend their regular season crown.
“This fall we will have a healthy 36-player roster,” Walton stated. “They are chomping at the bit, ready to work hard and already set to compete. They want to win, believe it, trust it but most of all, know it.”
As for Gorby’s spring semester, juggernaut is the descriptor most apropos when talking about his track programs.
His women’s team won the recent Horizon League outdoor championship – their eighth consecutive title in a row and 14th overall – with 252 total points, a record-setting 107 points ahead of runner-up Oakland University.
The YSU men’s team won their third consecutive championship – it was their fifth in the past six seasons – by scoring 257 points, a dominating 86 points more than second-place Milwaukee.
Both Penguins teams cemented their legacy, ensuring the programs’ dynasty remained intact as the seniors and what Gorby describes as his ‘Power 5’ Penguins remained undefeated during both their indoor and outdoor careers.
“We had 13, Power 5 Penguins qualify for the first-round of the NCAA Championships. That is a program record,” Gorby noted. “Our previous record was nine but the thing to remember is that our 13 student-athletes are competing at the highest level in college and beating Power 5 level players that hail from the SEC, ACC, Big Ten, Pac 12 and Big 12 conferences, among others.
“It was a proud moment when two of our players, Sean Peterson in the 1500m and pole vaulter Wyatt Lefker, were named Division I All-Americans. Each competed last week in the NCAA Finals at the University of Oregon’s $375 million Hayward Track & Field Stadium.
“These players aren’t Division I-AA All Americans and I am proud to say that YSU’s track and field program has now produced Division I, Power 5 All-Americans eight consecutive seasons. We approach each season with the hopes of improving and dominating at a national championship level.”
Next Monday, OHSAA champions from their recently completed spring sports seasons will be honored by the organization.
It will be the final luncheon of the year with its noon meetings resuming in early-September.