YSU track looks for more

Penguins take part in regional today

YOUNGSTOWN — It’s been another outstanding season for the Youngstown State track and field program, which won both the men’s and women’s Horizon League titles in both the indoor and outdoor seasons.

For a select group of athletes, the season isn’t over, as YSU is sending a record nine athletes to the NCAA East Regional preliminary round at Hodges Stadium in Jacksonville, Florida.

For Ryan Sullivan, a graduate of Howland High School, being able to represent the local community on a big stage is important.

“We’re very humbled that we were able to make it and everything,” he said. “It’s really a time for us to go out there and try to show the country what YSU is all about, and to be able to represent a smaller Division I university. It really is a big moment for us.”

Sullivan had a dominating outdoor season, becoming the first runner in YSU history to win the 10,000-meter run at the Horizon League meet. He also set the school record for fastest time in the 5,000 meters at the Penn Relays.

He wants to move farther up the leaderboard.

“I’m ranked 37th (in the 10,000) so if can place any higher than 37th, I’d be very happy,” Sullivan said. “Of course, the goal of making nationals is the top goal.”

Girard alumnus Collin Harden shattered the 400-meter hurdles school and league records with a time of 51.01 at the league meet. He’s ranked 15th in the event, and for him, mentality is key.

“We had a great season, but it doesn’t end at conference,” he said “We have to head into regionals with a different mindset.”

This will be Harden’s third time competing in the regional round.

“We’re competing for something better, and something bigger,” Harden said, “so we have to just hone in on those skills that we have and we’ve gained over the last couple of weeks preparing. We just have to do better and better.”

Jaliyah Elliott is the lone representative from the women’s team heading to regionals, but she comes in with postseason experience, as she competed in the regional meet during her freshman season.

Elliott qualified for both the 100- and 200-meter dashes, and she enjoys the opportunity to compete multiple times.

“I don’t like the 200 as much, but I wanted to get another chance at running besides conference because I didn’t really get the time I wanted to,” she said. “So hopefully, with faster competition, I can run the time I want and get a personal record in.”

Chad Zallow became the first athlete in YSU history to qualify for regionals four times, and he goes into the regional meet ranked 12th in the 110-meter hurdles with a time of 13.70. The decorated John F. Kennedy graduate is ready for to chance to return to nationals.

“For me, I’m going to take it round by round,” he said. “My main focus is my first race, advance to the finals. When I get there, then make it to nationals.”

Zallow has one particular goal going into the postseason.

“I’ve never made national finals for outdoor,” he said, “so I definitely want to get out to nationals, make the finals, and be in the big race on the last day.”

Wyatt Lefker won the men’s pole vault at the league meet and set the school record for best height cleared with a mark of 5.01 meters at Baldwin Wallace’s Harrison Dillard Twilight meet. He’s the Penguins’ only pole vaulter going to the regional.

YSU had four throwers qualify for regionals — Dom Westbay, Jake Wilson, Noah Drudy and Zach Gehm.

Coach Brian Gorby sees the regional appearance as an extension of a historic season.

“We’re riding a high that we’ve never had,” he said. “This crew is looking at three or four people, five people that have legitimate chances, along with four freshmen.”

The regional meet begins today and continues through Saturday.