Des Moines, Iowa -- Des Moines' own Obsie Birru of Grand View claimed the women's 10,000-meter run at the Drake Relays for the second time in three years on Thursday night. Birru kicked off the Relays' Distance Carnival "Under the Lights" with the victory in a time of 34:50.97 at Drake Stadium. Attendance for the session was 7,765.
Originally from Johnston, Birru was the first athlete from a Des Moines school to win a women's event at the Relays when she won the 10,000 in 2010. She finished second last year.
"This (race) was a lot different just because it's Drake," Birru said. "It just means so much to me because I grew up here in Des Moines and running at Drake has always been a special place. It's the Blue Oval, it will never get old to me. I hope to come back here some day after my collegiate years and hopefully someday come back and do it again. I'll cross my fingers for next year. Drake is home and it's exciting, but I put a little bit of pressure on myself. No one else really put any pressure on me. I thought, 'just go out have a great race and see what I can do,' and it happened. It means so much to me...being from Iowa. I came to the Drake Relays for the first time in eighth grade and was just overwhelmed, like 'Wow, I can't wait to be out there running'. Drake means so much to me."
Illinois' Colin Mickow ran 29:48.72 for the win in the men's 10,000. With the victory, Illinois added its Drake Relays-record 65th individual triumph. The Illini now have won 137 Drake Relays titles overall, the most of any school. Drake's own Brogan Austin (Boone, Iowa) finished ninth in a time of 30:11.15. The sophomore finished second in the event a year ago.
The women's heptathlon kicked off the events at the 2012 Drake Relays over Wednesday and Thursday. Jamaican international and former Iowa Hawkeye Peaches Roach-Findlay won the event scoring 5,709 points. The total was the second highest of her career. The event marked the first time in Relays history that the top three finishers were foreign-born. Aside from Roach-Findlay, second-place finisher Olimpia Nowak (Northern Iowa) was born in Poland, and third-place finisher Makeda Alcide (Arkansas) hails from St. Lucia.
In the men's decathlon, Northern Iowa's Daniel Gooris claimed the title with a point total of 7,624. Gooris entered the day in seventh place but rallied in the final five events to score the 10th-highest point total in the nation this season, a personal best. The victory marks the sixth win in the last nine decathlons for an athlete associated with Northern Iowa. Two-time Olympic medalist Bryan Clay competed in some events, but did not finish.
The distance events saw exciting finishes throughout. In the first true relay of the weekend, Iowa edged a strong Minnesota team in the women's 4x1600 in a time of 19:16.73. The Gophers were the three-time defending champion and had won six of the last 11 events at the Drake Relays. A strong anchor leg from McKenzie Melander, of 4:40.15, helped the Hawkeyes, who are the first of the Big-4 schools to win the relay. Two former Drake Relays standouts from West Des Moines Dowling, Ashlie Decker and Betsy Flood, ran for the two leaders. Flood ran the opening leg for the Hawkeyes, while Decker gave Minnesota a slight lead going into the final leg.
Oklahoma's Jessica Engel won the women's 5,000 in a time of 16:15.33. She was followed by a pair of Wartburg teammates, Jessica Sigmund, 16:20.80, and Alana Enabnit, 16:25.11.
Amanda Dunne was the first runner to cross the finish line in the 5,000, in 16:04.53, but was not the official winner because she is not a college student. Dunne is no stranger to victory on the blue oval. Formerly Amanda Bales, Dunne was a two-time winner at the Relays in the high school girls 800 in 200 and 2001 and the state champion in 2001 while competing for Pleasant Valley. She was a three-time Big 12 Conference champion at Missouri.
Griswold freshman Rebekah Topham won the high school girls' 3,000. Her time of 9:58.39 is the best among Iowa preps this year and 18th all-time in the state. Topham is young, but it was not her first Drake Relays victory, as she won the Grand Blue Mile girls 10-13 division in 2010. She also won the 1A state cross-country title last fall, running the fastest time in all four classes.
Dowling runner Cole Decker outsprinted Bettendorf's Matt Butler down the stretch to win the high school boys 3,200. Decker's time of 9:08.06 is the best in the state this season, and 11th on the all-time list, while Butler's time puts him 13th. Decker outshone his older sister, Ashlie, who ran on Minnesota's second-place 4x1600 relay team just after his victory.
A weekend of what looks to be outstanding field events got off to a great start by the high school girls and boys. In the high school girls' high jump Alexis Conaway had a career day. The MOC-Floyd Valley sophomore jumped a state-best 5-10.00, which is the third-best jump in Relays history and fourth on the Iowa all-time list.
After a fourth-place finish at the Relays last year, Sioux City West's Darius Pearson won the high school boys long jump with a jump of 22-11.50 with a wind of 2.0. Pearson is the second athlete from SC-West to win the event in the past 10 years (Quincy Christie, 2003).
With a discus throw of 172-02, Derek Seddon made history, as he became the first Drake Relays champion in Knoxville school history. Alexa Hunt also made a first for her school, becoming the first Des Moines Roosevelt competitor to win the girls high school shot put. The junior's throw of 42-3.75 was a foot farther than the runner-up.
Anthony Rotich of UTEP concluded events for the evening by winning the men's 5,000. The freshman finished in 13:57.09, edging Laban Sialo of Central Missouri for the victory.
Lucas Manring from Central Methodist won the unseeded men's 800 in 1:50.37. Drake's Charles Lapham (Golden Valley, Minn.) and Matt Jurysta (Oshwa, Ontario) finished fourth and fifth, respectively. The women's 800 unseeded race saw UW-Oshkosh junior Christy Cazzola come out on top with a time of 2:07.44.