Saturday, April 30, 2011
DES MOINES, Iowa--A record-breaking day under glorious sunshine Saturday put a cap on the 102nd Drake Relays at Drake Stadium. A total of 14 records were broken and one was tied during the meet, and an attendance record was tied when 14,504 spectators came out to the Blue Oval on Saturday for the 46th consecutive Drake Relays sellout.
The Saturday attendance total tied the mark previously set in 2009 for the 100th Drake Relays celebration, as the most since the stadium was reconfigured in 2006.
From Olympic gold medalists to NCAA champions to all-time best Iowa high school athletes, the 102nd Drake Relays had it all.
A familiar face to Relays fans, three-time gold medalist Jeremy Wariner, won the 400 meters in 45.19, the No. 1 U.S. outdoor 400 meter time this year. It was Wariner's third Drake Relays title, adding to his 2009 win in the 400 and his '07 triumph in the 200. Wariner's time also ranks No. 6 in the world in 2011.
Boaz Lalang of Kenya won his second consecutive men's mile run title with a time of 3:58.26, the No. 1 outdoor time in the world this year. Runner-up Peter Van Der Westhuize ran the world's second-fastest time of the year, 3:58.33.
Iowa native Jenny Barringer Simpson ran the fastest U.S. women's outdoor 1,500 time this year at 4:09.56, which also ranks fifth in the world.
Des Moines native and U.S. Olympian Lolo Jones drew the loudest ovation from the adoring Drake Stadium crowd, as has been customary in her previous homecomings for this historic event. She was thwarted, however, in her attempt to claim her fifth Drake Relays championship in the 100-meter hurdles, as Tiffany Ofili edged her at the finish in 12.66 to her 12.80.
"I fell apart in the middle and definitely in the end," Jones said. "But that is coming off the worst indoor season of my career. I haven't gone over as many hurdles in a race so I'm not as race-savvy or sharp."
Despite the setback, the warm welcome she received was not lost on the former Roosevelt High School and LSU star.
"I ran in my hometown," Jones continued, "but I have to take the loss with a grain of salt because it is such a long season."
The one record tied during the meet has special significance to Drake Relays Director Brian Brown. It was his 1997 high jump standard of 7-7 (2.31 meters) that was matched today by Dusty Jonas. Erik Kynard also cleared the 7-7 bar, but finished second in the event. It marks Jonas' second Drake Relays high jump victory, after his 2008 triumph while competing for Nebraska.
"Brian has been encouraging us for years to break this record, or at least tie it," Jonas said. "He was a great help out there. He was in everybody's corner all the time and is very gracious about everything. It was nice today to have such great competition and such great fans."
Relays fans also were afforded an outstanding sneak preview of the upcoming NCAA Championships, scheduled for June 8-11 at Drake Stadium, with some of the nation's best collegiate talent on display.
The Arkansas women's 4x400 relay team set a Drake Relays record with a time of 3:28.63, second-fastest in NCAA competition this year. It topped the previous best of 3:31.00 by Alabama in 1987. Whitney Jones anchored the win in 52.5.
Senior Letecia Wright of Ohio State also set a Relays record with her second consecutive 100 hurdles win in a time of 12.87. That time is the No. 1 outdoor college time this year, No. 2 in the U.S. and No. 3 in the world.
Alabama won the women's 4x100 shuttle hurdle relay for the third year in a row in a time of 54.49, which is the fastest time in the country this year. Illinois won the event three times in a row from 2000-02 with Drake Relays Hall of Fame inductee Perdita Felicien, and holds the meet record of 52.85.
Baylor's men's 4x400 meter relay team won its seventh consecutive Drake Relays title in a time of 3:05.01. It is Baylor's 19th win in the last 23 Relays in this event. Marcus Boyd anchored the win in 45.4.
The Baylor women set a Drake Relays record in the 4x100 relay in a time of 43.75, topping the 43.93 of Illinois in 1988 and Texas in 2007.
"This is my third time being here," said junior Brittany Carr, who anchored the Bears' victorious squad. "I was so happy to see the stands packed and the crowd was so into the racing, which really helped push a lot of people to fast times today."
Meanwhile, Illinois won its first men's 4x100 relay since 1953 in a time of 39.17. The Illini lead all teams with 71 Drake Relays event titles, followed by Baylor with 53.
Other Drake Relays records in the college/university division belonged to Stephanie Morgan of Illinois with her time of 4:15.90 in the 1,500 and Cincinnati junior Terence Somerville, who broke the 24-year-old standard of 13.49 in the men's 110 hurdles with a time of 13.48. Vernon George of Texas Southern held the previous mark since 1987.
Shelby Houlihan of Sioux City East added to her already impressive resume over the past three days. She became just the second high school competitor and first girls high school athlete to win three individual events in the same year at the Drake Relays.
"It's awesome," Houlihan said. "I didn't even know that. (PA announce Mike Jay) was announcing that while I was running and I was like, 'Oh my.' I came out here to specifically hit times that I wanted to run. I wasn't expecting to win; I just wanted to hit these times."
Houlihan won her sixth career Drake Relays individual event today with a 4:29.26 finish in the 1,500 meters, which is the best time in the state this year. Houlihan also captured the 800-meter and 3,000-meter titles this weekend. The last three-win prep was Darwin Vande Hoef of Rock Valley, who won the boys high jump, 400 hurdles and 110 hurdles in 1989.
The Urbandale girls 4x100 shuttle hurdle relay won the event for the third time in four years with a new Drake Relays record time of 1:03.65, breaking the mark they set in 2010.
The Des Moines Roosevelt girls 4x100 relay team of freshman Jalynn Roberts-Lewis, seniors Candess McCamey and Alexis Sauls and junior Erin Hawkins set a new Drake Relays record with a 47.79 clocking, which is also an Iowa high school girls all-time best mark.
Temperatures throughout the day hovered in the mid-60s, reaching a high of 69 degrees at 3 p.m.