Zallow at Indoor Nationals for fourth straight season

Chad Zallow is familiar with the scene at the NCAA Indoor Track and Field Championships in Birmingham, Alabama, one of five participants who has made it to four consecutive NCAA Indoor Nationals.

Zallow, a John F. Kennedy High School graduate and Youngstown State University senior, is running tonight in the semifinals of the men’s 60-meter hurdles.

Zallow’s best time of 7.66 seconds in the 60 hurdles is ranked fourth in the NCAA this season. He has won the event five times this year. Zallow is the four-time Horizon League champion in the 60 hurdles, and also won the 60-meter dash and 200-meter dash this season at the league meet.

Zallow placed third at this year’s Millrose Games in the Fred Schmertz 60 hurdles in a time of 7.69 seconds against an elite field.

“Running in NYC helped me to get adjusted to running against great competition on a national stage,” Zallow said. “I definitely feel more comfortable being here knowing I performed well earlier in the year with similar pressure and competition.”

The other four four-time finals qualifiers at Birmingham this weekend are Wake Forest’s Robert Heppenstall (800 meters), Georgia’s Denzel Comenentia (shot put), UCLA’s Dotun Ogundeji (shot put) and Virginia Tech’s Deakin Volz (pole vault).

Last year, Zallow placed fifth at Nationals after taking third as a sophomore. Florida’s Grant Holloway is a two-time champion in the event and has the best time of 7.43 seconds coming into tonight’s competition.

The other athletes in Zallow’s heat are Georgia’s Michael Nicholls (7.67 seconds), Florida’s Cory Poolea (7.73 seconds), Southern Mississippi’s Claeb Parker (7.73 seconds), Iowa’s Chris Douglas (7.75 seconds), North Carolina A&T’s Michael Dickson (7.75 seconds) and South Carolina’s Isaiah Moore (7.76 seconds). In the second heat, Kentucky’s Daniel Roberts (7.48 seconds) and Florida’s State Trey Cunningham (7.53 seconds) posted times below 7.67 seconds.

“It’ll take one of the best races of my career,” Zallow said. “This field has the top two guys in the world, so it will be a big challenge, but I’m up for it. The main goal is first to qualify for the finals and take it race by race.”

YSU junior Jaliyah Elliott also will run tonight in the women’s 60 dash. She won the event five times this year and claimed the Horizon League title in both the 60 and 200 dashes, while posting school records in both events. Her fastest time this year is 7.45 seconds in the 60.

“It’s great to have another athlete here in Birmingham,” Zallow said. “It’s different not being the only athlete here for a change and to know there’s another athlete on the team going through the same kind of pressure you are.”

Zallow remains focused and said he stayed off his feet for tonight’s race. No sightseeing, just preparation for the event, which will be his last collegiate indoor event as a YSU athlete.

“It’s definitely bittersweet with this being my last Indoor NCAA championships,” Zallow said. “I’m going to miss competing at these, however I’m really excited to see what opportunities and challenges lies ahead post collegiality.”