By Jeff Brown
The Youngstown State University track and field team is preparing for its first invitational of the indoor season after having over a month off since their last meet, the YSU Icebreaker, back in early December.
Coach Brian Gorby’s Penguins will face over 30 schools in the YSU invitational that takes place on Jan. 23 at the Watson and Tressel Training Site and includes many out-of-state universities, such as West Virginia University and the University of Pittsburgh.
The Penguins had a strong showing in their opening meet of the season, including a record-breaking performance from freshman Caleb Lloyd in the 60-meter hurdles event. Lloyd posted a time of 8.13 seconds, which beat the previous record of 8.22 set by Jerrill Hall.
“It’s big. I didn’t see it coming honestly,” Lloyd said about breaking the record as a freshman.
This early success is nothing new for the Lloyd family. Caleb’s sister Cassandra Lloyd is a four-year letter winner at Wright State University and is considered one of the top female hurdlers in the country.
“She’s a good mentor. She’s the one who basically motivated me to run track,” Lloyd said. “She broke records her freshman year, so it makes me feel special I did the same thing as her.”
Lloyd is hoping to improve upon his record in the upcoming YSU invitational.
“That’s what I’m working for right now,” Lloyd said. “I’m looking to get in my sevens and hopefully do something to get into nationals.”
Jumper Arnaldo Morales is also looking to make YSU history at the upcoming meet. Morales expects to break the school high-jump record which currently sits at 6 feet, 9 3/4 inches.
“I’m aiming to break the record here,” Morales said. “ I expect to do pretty good. High-jump, I expect to go 6 feet, 10 inches.”
Gorby hopes the excitement of having the meet at home will give his team an added advantage.
“Going into this first meet, we’re of course excited,” Gorby said. “We want to raise the roof and get everybody excited. We got music exciting everybody.”
The Penguin athletes also have a home-field advantage over those from other schools, according to Lloyd.
“This is where I practice all the time. It’s a comfortability factor. I know how the track feels and all of that,” Lloyd said.
As for the overall team success, Gorby said he expects the team to do well coming off the long winter break.
“We’re looking for everybody to go after wins. Either winning or PB [personal best],” Gorby said. “That’s going to always be the goal for YSU. We have a high standard.”
Though this meet is important, the main focus for the team is to make it to the Horizon League Championship and then the NCAA Championships, Gorby said. YSU had 10 competitors in last year’s NCAA Championships.
“There’s always another level to go in our sport. Once we may of course win our meet, then we’re trying to win conference, then after conference we’re trying to make Nationals,” Gorby said. “And, as Bobby Grace did last year, get top 3 at Nationals.”