Sitting near the end zone at the Watson and Tressel Training Site (WATTS), members of the Youngstown State University track and field team rested and recollected their thoughts about the YSU National Invitational on Saturday.
From the pack, Mackenzie Sturtz stood in front, smiling as though she won the lottery. When thinking about her performance, the freshman’s smile grew larger, trying to put the right words together.
Sturtz placed first in the high jump, jumping 1.70 meters. Although she also won the event at the SPIRE Invitational on Saturday, winning at YSU was something else entirely.
“It’s the best thing that happened to me,” Sturtz said.
Sturtz wasn’t the only Penguin pleased. Others placed first or second in their respective fields between Friday and Saturday.
Headlining the invitational was the men’s and women’s mile run. Samantha Hamilton won the women’s with a time of 4:56, giving herself two top three finishes in the mile. It was the second time Hamilton competed in the mile this year.
“The big goal today was I was trying to get to 1,200 [meters] as hard as I could,” she said. “Then, I didn’t care what happened in the last quarter. I’m not really a miler, but we’ve been doing it to get ready to run some fast distances in the next couple of weeks.”
Eric Rupe took the honors in the men’s mile with a time of 4:10, just missing the facility record by three seconds. Teammate Austin McLean, despite setting a personal record, finished second with a time of 4:13. Rupe and McLean said they haven’t run the mile in two years.
One of the main objectives for Rupe and Hamilton in the mile runs was to prepare for the Horizon League Championships, which run from March 1-2.
“She’s kind of in the same boat as me,” Rupe said. “We’re both kind of 5K and 3K runners. She’s running the 3K next week, while I’ll be running the 5K. Hopefully, the 5K and 3K will feel slow as compared to the one mile.”
One Penguin not in attendance was Bobby Grace. He competed in the Armory Collegiate Invitational and placed third at 18.75 meters.
In the shot put at YSU, John Chiclowe finished second throwing 16.16 meters. For the women, Jennifer Neider and Jayne Corbett finished back to back. Neider placed second while Chiclowe finished third. Both threw 13.59 meters.
With the conference championships on the horizon, YSU got a good feel of where it stands. Oakland University and the University of Detroit Mercy competed as well, two teams in the Horizon League.
“Based on paper, we’re probably a solid 50 or 60 points ahead of those teams right now,” coach Brian Gorby said.
The Penguins will return to competition at the SPIRE Division I Invitational in Geneva on Friday and Saturday. After that, they will compete in the Akron Zips Invitational on Feb. 21 and the Alex Wilson Invitational on Feb. 22 before the championships begin.