The Youngstown State track and field teams will be competing at the 2014 Horizon League Championships this weekend at Youngstown State. The Penguins also held the Indoor Horizon League Championship that was earlier this year but this will be the first time that Youngstown State will be hosting the Outdoor Horizon League Championship at the Farmers National Bank Field.
The Penguins have been one of the top teams fighting for the crown in the last couple of years. Last year at the 2013 Championship in Michigan the women were the runner-ups to Loyola and the men ended up finishing in third behind Loyola and Milwaukee, and in 2012 the women had won the Championships in Wisconsin and the men were the runner-ups.
The women that were winners of individual championships last year that helped Youngstown State claim their second place finish were Nina Grambling (100-meter dash), Ciara Jarrett (200-meter dash) Laura Kosiorek (100-meter hurdles). Alexis Washington joined Grambling, Jarrett, and Kosiorek in the 4x100-meter relay where they set a meet-record time of 45.83 seconds. Grambling and Washington will be the only two that will be returning this year to compete in the meet.
The women ended up scoring 150.50 points while Loyola came away with 202 points. The men finished with 87 points which was 84 points behind the second place team, Loyola (171 points), and 144 points behind the winners of the meet, Milwaukee (231 points).
Top performers for the Guins this year are seniors Samantha Hamilton, Alexis Washington, Alteeka Vanwright, junior Jessica Parham, sophomores Nina Grambling, Jen Shiley, Jennifer Neider, freshman McKinsie and Michelle Klim, Chenera Lacey, MacKenzie Sturtz, Jaynee Corbett, and Nicole Waibel.
Hamilton has had a stellar senior year starting from the cross country season and has brought that intensity all the way into the indoor and outdoor track season. She currently has the top time in the Horizon League in the 1,500 meter, 5,000 meter, and 10,000 meter run. Sam also broke the YSU record this year in the mile (4:53.42) in the indoor season and the 1,500 meter run (4:28.88) in the outdoor season.
Alexis Washington is ranked sixth in the 100m dash in the Horizon League (12.28), and seventh in the 200m dash (25.17) while Vanwright currently has the sixth fastest time in the 200m dash (25.12), and third fastest in the 400m dash (57.63). Parham is coming off a solid win in last week's meet at Ashland and is leading the Horizon League in the javelin by 8.55 meters (42.71).
Grambling, last year's Horizon League Running Newcomer of the Meet, has been Youngstown State's top sprinter for the women this outdoor season. Nina has been strong all year and doesn't plan to slow down as she has the fastest times in the 100 (11.73) and 200 meter dash (24.03) in the Horizon League, and also ranks first in the long jump with a jump of 5.75 meters. Shiley is ranked sixth in the 400m dash with a time of 58.38 seconds and has been progressing in the 400m hurdles in every meet as she holds the third fastest time in the Horizon League in the event.
The Neider and Corbett duo hold the top two throws of the Horizon League in the shot put with Neider having the best throw of 13.82 meters and Corbett not far behind with a throw of 13.57 meters. Corbett also controls the second farthest throw in the discus throughout the Horizon League (41.60m), 1.84 meters behind the leader Megan Howdeshell of Valparaiso while Neider is ranked fifth in the hammer throw (48.05m).
Lacey and Sturtz have had tremendous freshman years as they had their highest jumps at the Penn Relays this past weekend which would put them tied for the second highest jump in high jump (1.68m) in the Horizon League. Waibel has been a solid addition to the track and field squad as she was able to set Youngstown State's pole vault record during the indoor season with a height of 3.89 meters. She is also ranked fourth in the Horizon League in the pole vault tied with UIC's Latreesha Washington (3.35m).
The Klim sisters, McKinsie and Michelle, have promising futures as Penguins as McKinsie was the Women's Freshman of the Year in cross country and was the Track Freshman of the Year during the indoor season. Michelle is ranked in the top five in the 5,000 meter run in the Horizon League as her time of 17:45.98 at the Raleigh Relays puts her with the fourth fastest time. In the 10,000 meter run Michelle has the third fastest time (37:07.12) and McKinsie is ranked fourth (37:17.95).
The women have the fastest time in the 4x100 meter relay in the Horizon League with a time of 46.78 seconds and the third fastest in the 4x400 meter relay (3:53.72).
Seniors Bobby Grace, John Seaver, juniors Eric Rupe, Austin McLean, sophomore Jay Jakovina, and freshman Connor Neu, and Robin Hall will be the athletes to look for to lead the men to their first-ever outdoor title.
The men's field events and distance runners led by Grace and Rupe have been the Penguins strong point all year while the sprinters have been improving in every meet. The men currently hold four top times, four top throws, and one top jump in the Horizon League.
Rupe has been dominating his competition all year and holds three of the four top times for the Guins in the 1,500 meter (3:53.14), 5,000 meter (14:22.27), 10,000 meter run (30:48.81), and has the second fastest time in the 3,000 meter steeplechase (9:23.44). Rupe was also able to break YSU's record in the 5,000 meter race with a time of 14:22.27 earlier in the season. McLean is ranked sixth in the 1,500 meter race (3:55.82), second in the 5,000m (14:46.16), and holds the best time in the 3,000 meter steeplechase in the Horizon League.
Hall has the second fastest times in the 200 (21.52) and 400 meter dash (48.34) trailing Marquis Johnson of Wis.-Milwaukee in both events.
Youngstown State men's throwers have a commanding control in the field events as they have the top four throws in the shot put, the top three and fifth best throw in the discus, the top two throws in the javelin, and the top throw and fifth best throw in the hammer throw.
Grace, an NCAA Indoor All-American this year and YSU's Athlete of the Year, has been the leader of the throwers all year as he set the school record in the shot put with a toss of 19.90 meters at the NCAA Indoor Track and Field Championship to finish in third. He also set the school record in the shot put with a toss of 19.56m at the Jesse Owens Classic this outdoor season. That distance is the seventh best in the country this year and makes it the Horizone Leagues top throw. He also has the second best throw in the discus (49.71m), and fifth best throw in the hammer throw in the league.
Seaver is ranked second in the shot put (17.49m), Stephen Lyons is third in the shot put (16.16m) and Jacob Chiclowe is fourth in the shot put (15.97m). Eric Vendemia has the third best throw in the discus (47.80m), and Kevin McCulloh has the best throw in the javelin (61.04m) while Robert Dixon is ranked second with a toss of 55.20 meters.
Neu has been a tough competitor with the Penguins all track season and should be able to continue his success at the championship this year. He leads the league in the discus with a throw of 50.04 meters and also leads the league in the hammer throw with a heave of 64.53 meters.
Jakovina was the only Penguin from the men's side that won his event, high jump, in last year's championship. He was also named the Men's Field Newcomer of the Meet last year and continued to show his impressive jumping ability this year as he was able to have his best jump ever of 2.10 meters that is presently the best jump in the league.
The men are also ranked with the second best 4x100 meter relay time in the Horizon League clocking in at 42.22 seconds.
At the Horizon League Indoor Championships this year the women were able to pull away with the title beating Detroit by 80 points as the men's decision came down to the final event in the 4x400 meter relay as it ended up in a video review concluding a YSU disqualification making them the runner-ups to Milwaukee.
Tickets are as followed for this years Championship, $10 for a day pass, $5 for an all-day student pass while Horizon League students are admitted free (with ID) and children five years and under are also admitted for free.
The first day of the Championships start Friday at 10 a.m. with the Decathlon and will proceed with the Heptathlon, Discus, Javelin, and 10,000m run. It will continue on Saturday starting at 9 a.m. and will end on Sunday which starts at 10 a.m.