Women Go For First Title Since 2008; Men Look to Make Noise

Women Go For First Title Since 2008; Men Look to Make Noise

The Youngstown State men's and women's track and field teams will be looking to pick up Horizon League titles when the Indoor Track and Field Championships get underway on Saturday at the WATTS.

Events on Saturday start at 2:30 p.m. while on Sunday, field events start at 9 a.m. with the high jump and the first running event is slated for 1 p.m.

The YSU women last claimed the indoor Horizon League Track and Field title in 2008 while the men's only indoor crown came in 2003.

This year's event features only eight returning champions from the 2013 league meet out of 32 individual winners. Loyola won both the men's and women's crowns last year, but the Ramblers have departed for the Missouri Valley Conference.

Both YSU programs had a strong showing in the fall with the women winning their first HL Cross Country crown while the men finished a strong second.

So far this year, the women have been solid from top to bottom while the men's distance runners and throwers are some of the best in the conference and the sprinters have shown steady improvement late in the year.

Leading the women's charge is Samantha Hamilton, Ciara Jarrett, Nina Grambling, Jennifer Neider, Jaynee Corbett, Jen Shiley, Alteeka Vanwright, Chenara Lacey, Mackenzie Sturtz, Nicole Waibel and Ellie Pollock.

Hamilton enters the league meet as the top runner in the mile, 3,000-meter run and 5,000-meter run. She has a huge advantage over the second-best 5,000 runner while the mile and 3,000m could be close races. 

Jarrett is looking to become YSU's first-ever four-time indoor champion in one event. She owns three consecutive 200m titles and is bidding to become just the third woman in the 25-year history of the event to win that race four straight years. Grambling also could be in the title mix.

In the 60-meter dash, Grambling and Jarrett will try to best Milwaukee's Simbi Laaro. Laaro ran a blistering 7.37 seconds in the 60-meter dash last week while Grambling and Jarrett have run 7.57's this year.

Shiley ranks first in the conference in the 400-meter dash while Vanwright is right behind her. Both lead the league by nearly .40 seconds.

Neider and Corbett will lead the Guins in the throwing events. Neider is the defending league champion in the shot put and duo rank 1-2 in the Horizon League this year.

Another event where the Guins are 1-2 is the high jump. Lacey is first while Sturtz is second and the duo are the only two in the league to clear 1.70 meters.

Waibel is coming off a school-record and league-best 3.89m in the pole vault while Pollock has the top marks this year in the long jump and second-best in the triple jump.

For the men, Eric Rupe, Austin McLean, Bobby Grace, Connor Neu, Marcellus Embry, Robin Hall, Nick Gliha and Jay Jakovina are all at or near the top in their respective events.

Rupe ranks first in the 3,000 meters, an event a YSU runner has never won at the indoor championships. In the 5,000m, McLean is just .26 seconds ahead of Rupe for the best time in the Horizon League. Also in the 5,000, Gliha is third in the league just eight seconds back. In the mile, Rupe is second and McLean is fourth.

Jakovina won the high jump crown last year ending Milwaukee's run of seven straight titles in the event. He is tied for the top spot in the league so far this year.

Grace, who ranks eighth in the nation, redshirted last year, but won the shot put in 2012. The Penguins have owned the event winning four consecutive titles and five of the past six.

Neu has had a banner year so far as a freshman. He has crushed the school record in the weight throw with a heave of 20.40m. His distance is more than 2.50m ahead of his closest competition.

Embry and Hall have made some strong strides in the sprint events. Embry has the fastest time in the 200m in the league at 21.74 seconds. He is tied for fourth just .04 seconds behind the top time so far this year. Hall ran a season-best time of 48.25 seconds in the last meet at Akron. He is one of six runners under 50 seconds so far this year.

The women have finished second in three of the last five meets, placing third last year. The women have won the event three times in the past - 2008, 2005 and 2004. The last women's team to win on its home track was Milwaukee in 2003.

The men were third last year as Milwaukee and Loyola dominated the team scoring. The men were runner-up each year from 2006-09 and were third the past two meets. The last men's team to win on its home track was Milwaukee in 2000.