Correspondent photo/Robert Hayes. YSU’s Sean Peterson reacts by crossing the finish line on Sunday afternoon, becoming the first athlete in Horizon League history to win an event five times, taking advantage of the extra “COVID year” given to athletes.

YOUNGSTOWN — When you earn your 48th and 49th championship ring, it would be easy for many coaches to feel that the seasons are starting to merge. Not so for Youngstown State track coach Brian Gorby.

With this weekend’s Horizon League championship encounter standing out a bit more than some of the other titles – throwbacks to all-time highs, the Penguins had it all.

With 211 points, the women won their sixth consecutive indoor title, beating their previous record of 203 points set in 2018, the men tallied 225 points to claim their seventh consecutive indoor championship.

“Everyone has stepped up, when you have 30 kids it’s one or two (extra) points per kid, if you think about it in those terms, it’s a lot of scratches and scratches,” Gorby said. “That’s kind of the goal for this team, but no mental errors at all throughout the day.”

“For 60 people to have no mental errors, no false starts, it will be a great memory of a lifetime,” Gorby added. “It’s 48 or 49 for us, but for a lot of these kids it’s number one, and we always want to make sure they’re appreciated and understand how important it is.”

In total between men and women, YSU took first place in 15 events, Youngstown East graduate Jahniya Bowers counting two in the 60m (7.33s) and 200m (23.99s), with a pair of other Penguins picking up two wins.

For Sean Peterson, history was made on Sunday afternoon after his victories in the mile (4:07.25) and 800m (1:52.81), the latter making him the first athlete in Horizon League history to win an event five times, with the COVID-19 pandemic giving athletes an extra season at all levels.

Having an extra season is something most college athletes never get to experience, but winning an event in all five seasons? Now it’s something on a different level for two-time Indoor Track and Field Athlete of the Year winner Alfreeda Goff.

“It’s really hard to compartmentalize there, because you want to take one run at a time, but at the same time you’re trying not to get burned (in the mile),” said Peterson, a native of Middleburg Heights, Ohio. “Just getting that first run done is a big weight on your shoulders, and then you know you can run 800m free.

“This year I really learned from last year because last year I was chasing too much time, I was putting a lot of pressure on myself. Peterson added. “This year I decided to take a step back and have fun with things and focus on my intake, just doing what I can in training, recovering, eating well and doing all the things I can. those little things to prepare me for the races. That was really my big change and my goal.

Fellow senior Nikki Squatrito also took first place in the mile (4:55.89) and 800m (2:11.11), earning her first career victories after regularly finishing second or third in the past, the 800m time she posted on Sunday afternoon sets a new school record, beating her own mark of 2:11.95.

The road to victory hasn’t always been easy for the Jefferson, Ohio native, especially after she missed last season with a serious injury that sidelined her for nine months.

“If you had asked me that a year ago, I probably would have told you that I was going to retire,” Squatrito said. “Coming back for cross country was very hard, I was very fit, I didn’t do any physical activity for nine months. It was heart related and running is aerobic so the support from my teammates – they have been here every day.

“Gorby believed in me from day one,” she added. “He always knew it was bittersweet to come full circle. It was almost like a fairy tale, and I’m so grateful and blessed.

When it came to the last part of the mile, a wide, ear-to-ear smile fell on Squatrito’s face as she was met at the finish line by coaches and fellow Penguins. , as well as her family and her fiancé and teammate Ethan Sparks.

She finally had the opportunity to stand on top.

Winning is always a good feeling accompanied by an adrenaline rush, but after missing an entire season and picking up two wins, Sunday was a standout day for Squatrito for his career, but tested his character and his courage.

“I didn’t give myself an option today – I was just like, this is it,” Squatrito said.I said to one of my teammates: ‘I feel pretty good, is it weird, should I be worried?’ and they said no, “today is your day”, and I just kinda ran with it today. If it was going to be any day, today was going to be the day, and he was right. It gave me confidence in myself. »

“I just had to not give myself an option because I’ve been through so much” she added, “and I’ve worked so hard to do that for this program and for my coaches, but also for me and my teammates.”

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