DES MOINES, Iowa--World 200-meter leader and U.S. Olympian Wallace Spearmon broke Michael Johnson's 15-year Drake Relays record in the men's special invitational 200 Saturday to highlight the 11 meet records broken on the day, to bring the meet total to 15.
The 2012 Relays concluded with a sellout of the Saturday session for the 47th consecutive year. Attendance was reported at 14,504, tying the record since the stadium renovation set previously in 2009 and '11.
Spearmon's time of 20.02 bested Johnson's previous standard of 20.05 set in 2007. The American indoor record-holder was honored to break Johnson's mark.
"He was one of the guys I idolized when I was growing up," Spearmon said of Johnson. "So to even be mentioned in the same sentence with him is a great honor. I have been trying and trying and finally reached my goal."
A slew of other Drake Relays bests were had by some of the most talented athletes in the world. Hurdler Ryan Wilson broke his own Drake Relays record from 2009 in the men's 110 hurdles, his third Relays victory in the event (also 2010). Wilson finished in 13.20, the second-fastest time in the world this year.
Runner-up in the 110 hurdles, Omo Osaghae, finished in 13.24, the third-best time on the world list.. Terrence Trammell, a two-time Olympic silver medalist and five-time U.S. indoor hurdles champion, finished third in 13.36.
"I really enjoy running here," Wilson said. "Things didn't go well last year, so my manager gave me some options this year, but I said no let's go to Drake. I was trying to put together a shuttle hurdle to go to Penn, then the schedule came out and Drake was the same weekend and I said to my coach, 'well?' He said 'just go to Drake; we know you will run well there. It's an Olympic year so you have to think about yourself a little.'"
High-jumper Chaunte' Lowe and pole-vaulter Jenn Suhr each set Drake Relays records in their respective events. Suhr, the number one ranked pole-vaulter in the world, cleared a height of 15 feet, three inches to win the event. She broke the old record of 15 feet, 1.75 inches set by Stacy Dragila in 2003. Suhr holds the Drake Stadium record of 16 feet, and a half-inch, which she set during the U.S. Championships in 2010, and the American record of 16 feet, and 1.75 inches that she set in 2008.
"It's hard to pass up a pole vault opportunity here in Des Moines," said Suhr, who also won the Relays' Pole Vault in the Mall event on Wednesday. "The crowd was so great when I was at the the Mall and I was pumped up and thought it better to open up the outdoor season while I was here."
Lowe set a Drake Relays record when she cleared six feet, six inches in the women's invitational high jump. Lowe, a four-time U.S. champion and two-time Olympian, set the old record of 6-5 in 2010. With Saturday's performance, Lowe now has the top two jumps in the world this year.
"My last memory of here was jumping the American record," Lowe said of her leap at the 2010 USATF championships at Drake Stadium. "So just getting back on here it's electrifying. Iowans, they just absolutely love the high jump. It just takes your breath away. You want to perform for them."
Des Moines Roosevelt High School won the high school girls 4x100 relay in an all-time best 47.55 for its seventh victory at this year Drake Relays. That's the most for any high school in the meet's 103 years. Roosevelt also won the 4x200 and sprint medley relays, Erin Hawkins won the 100, Destani Welch won the 100 hurdles, Jalynn Roberts-Lewis claimed the long jump title and Alexa Hunt won the shot put. Hawkins anchored all three relay victories. Des Moines East won six boys events in 1951: 100 dash, 120-yard hurdles, 440-yard relay, 880-yard relay, mile relay and two-mile relay.
The 4x100-meter relays bring much excitement, but the events on Saturday were unusual at best. During a 20-minute stretch late Saturday afternoon, sprinters treated fans to four Drake Relays records in 4x100 relays. Des Moines Roosevelt started the record spree by running to a state all-time best of 47.55 in the high school girls' race. Cedar Falls followed with a record of 42.17 in the high school boys' race, with James Harrington bringing the Tigers from behind with a brilliant anchor. Lincoln then set a record of 39.57 in the college men's 4x100 and Texas capped the record burst with a time of 43.58 in the university women's 4x100.
"It feels great to finish my last Drake Relays race with a win and record." Harrington said. "The Drake Relays is a great experience and I am going to cherish it the rest of my life. It's a blessing. I want to thank God, my family and everyone else."
In the morning session, the record in the university women's sprint medley relay went from one Arkansas school to another. Anchored by Norwegian Martine Borge, Arkansas ran 3:45.48 to break the Drake Relays and Drake Stadium record of 3:46.78 that Arkansas-Little Rock set in 1996. The Razorbacks won five events for the weekend, sweeping the University 4x200 races and Brede Ellingsen's high jump victory on Friday, then winning the sprint medley relay and Brittany Hyter's victory in the women's college-university 100 hurdles, in 13.47.
Ashley Miller won three Drake Relays championships as a high school runner at Tipton and 15 titles in state championship meets at Drake Stadium. Saturday, the senior from Nebraska got her first victory on the Drake oval as a collegian-and in record-setting fashion. Miller won the university-college women's 1500 in 4:15.16. That broke the Relays record of 4:15.90 set by Stephanie Morgan of Illinois last year. Miller will be inducted into the Iowa Girls High School Athletic Union's Track Hall of Fame at this year's state meet next month.
"Anytime you come away with a Drake Relays flag it's a really special, memorable race." Miller said. "This one was really meaningful, because it was my last shot. To come away with a flag at this one definitely means a lot and to come away with a record it."
Waukee made history while winning the girls shuttle hurdle relay. Their time of 63.29 not only set a Drake Relays record but was also an all-time Iowa best.
Another Iowa native, reigning 1500-meter world champion Jenny Simpson, opened a big lead, then cruised to a victory in the invitational women's 1500 in 4:12.95. Simpson, who appeared on the cover of this year's Drake Relays program, won the 1500 at last year's world championships and is the American record-holder in the steeplechase.
Georgia had two outstanding performances on Saturday. In the men's university sprint medley relay the southern Bulldogs ran a world best for the season of 3:16.46. Freshman pole vaulter Morgan Leleux competed with the best in the world in the invitational women's pole vault. Although the event was won by Suhr, Leleux cleared the second-highest height of the competition, 14 feet and 5.25 inches, out-vaulting a field of professionals.
In the men's UD/CD 100-meter dash final Mississippi's Isiah Young won in a time of 10.08. It would have been a Drake Relays record, however the wind was 2.2 mph, so the record was not allowed. Young's teammate Carson Blanks won the closest race of the in the men's UD/CD 400 Hurdles. His time of 50.70 edged out Nebraska's Miles Ukaoma one-hundredth of a second to win.
Southern Illinois' Jevena McCall won the university/college women's hammer throw with a throw of 217 feet. Her victory is the third in a row for SIU in the event (Gwen Berry won in 2010 & 2011) and fifth in the past six years. DePaul's Tim Nedow won the men's collegiate hammer with a throw of 191 feet three inches. It was his second victory in two days, as he won the shot put on Friday.
The Texas women had one of the most impressive teams of the weekend. After Shanay Briscoe's university-college high jump victory on Friday, the Longhorns won three more events on Saturday. Allison Peter won the university-college women's 100 and ran the second leg in their victorious 4x100 relay. The 4x400 relay won handily in 3:33.15, to close out the women's events.
Lincoln (Mo.) dominated the college division sprinting events on a weekend when its head coach Victor Thomas was inducted into the Drake Relays Coaches Hall of Fame. The men set the record in the previously mentioned 4x100 while the women also won the 4x100 relay, as well as the college division sprint medley and the university-college shuttle hurdle relay.
Florida ended Baylor's dominance in the men's university 4x400 relay. The Gators received a splendid anchor from Tony McQuay and won the race in 3:02.41, the second-fastest collegiate time this year. The Florida victory ended Baylor's winning streak in the event at seven. It's just the seventh time in the last 29 years that a school other than Baylor has won the race. The gators won four events on the weekend.
Boaz Lalang claimed the Pat Deveny mile run in a time of 4:04.29. He has won the event the past three Relays. France's Teddy Venel won the invitational men's 400 in 46.00. In the invitational women's 400 a time of 52.03, run by Keisha Baker, was good enough to win the event.
Kristin Castlin won the invitational women's 110 hurdles in 12.76, the fifth-best time in the world this year. Lolo Jones, the 2008 Olympian and former Des Moines Roosevelt and LSU star, had been expected to run, but was a late scratch.
The Indianola boys' high school 4x800 relay team, running 7:50.68, won the event for the third year in a row. Griswold's freshman Rebekah Topham came from the back of the pack to a dominant win in the girl's 1500-meter run in 4:40.30. She won the 3,000-meter run on Thursday, as well as the girl's 1A Cross Country championship, running the best time of all classes. She also finished fifth in the 400 hurdles.
Fort Madison's Raheem Black put himself in fast company in winning the high school boys 400 hurdles. Black's time 52.45 puts him in a tie for ninth on the state's all-time list. West Des Moines Valley ran a season best in winning the girls 4x800 relay in 9:17.49. Lydia Saggau, who won the 800 on Friday, anchored the Tigers' to the victory.
The four-day attendance figures for the 2012 Drake Relays was 39,319. Among many breathtaking moments at this year's Relays was the unfurling of a football field-sized American flag to accompany the Tribute to the Troops on Saturday afternoon. As many as 300 volunteers, including American servicemen and women, joined together to carry the flag into the stadium.