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Roosevelt's Destani Welch raced to a win in the 100-meter hurdles Friday.
Courtesy: Chris Donahue

Four Records Fall, Two U.S. Bests Set During Friday Session Of Drake Relays

Courtesy: Drake Athletics
         
Release: April 27, 2012
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DES MOINES, Iowa--The Friday session of the 2012 Drake Relays saw two United States best marks set along with four meet records.

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Oklahoma junior Tia Brooks, the 2012 NCAA indoor champion in the shot put, toppled the Drake Relays record with an American-leading throw of 60 feet 7.25 inches.

In the women's 4x800, Notre Dame ran the fastest time in the country this year, indoors or outdoors, in capturing a Relays title in 8:35.89. Junior Rebecca Tracy brought the Fighting Irish from behind on the final lap with an excellent 2:04.5 anchor. Second-place finisher North Dakota State also ran faster than the previous best in its 8:36.31 finish.

A total of four Drake Relays records were broken on the day. In addition to Brooks' new standard, three high school records fell. Last year's high school outstanding performer, James Harrington of Cedar Falls, electrified the crowd at the morning session, becoming just the third athlete to win the high school boys 100-meter dash three times. He accomplished the feat in a time of 10.61 a Drake Relays record.

The next record fell in the high school boys' 800-meter race where St. Edmond's Neil Flattery set the record in 1:55.18, narrowly eclipsing the time of 1:55.82 set last year by Kyle Wheeler of Glenwood.

Des Moines Roosevelt began putting together a huge meet in the high school girls division. The 4x200 team broke its own Drake Relays record set last year, finishing in 1:41.66. In total the Roughriders have won six events so far and have put up the fastest qualifying time for a final to be run Saturday.

Roosevelt's Alex Hunt won the shot put on Thursday while her teammates posted five more victories Friday: Erin Hawkins in the 100 for the second straight year, Destani Welch in the 100 hurdles, Jalynn Roberts-Lewis in the long jump, the 4x200 relay and sprint medley relay. Hawkins anchored both relay wins, while teammate Agnes Sayeh was third and Roberts-Lewis fourth in the 100. On Friday night, Roosevelt put up the fastest time in the 4x100 heats to lead the qualifying for Saturday's final. 

Two of America's best competed against each other in the women's Javelin Friday afternoon. American record-holder Kara Patterson had the best throw of the day, carrying 185 feet and seven inches. Oklahoma's Brittany Borman, who holds the best throw this season, won the event with a throw of 179 feet, before passing on her final three attempts. She came into the meet with a top throw of 194 feet and 11 inches. Patterson was ineligible for the victory, competing unattached because she is not a college student.

The Arkansas team kicked off what Razorbacks hope is a dominant weekend by sweeping the 4x200-meter relays. The women opened by claiming their third title in the event in 1:34.05, adding to their victories in 2002 and 2007, the second-most victories in the event. The men then completed an exciting come-from-behind victory in which anchor Akheem Gauntlett chased down Baylor's Everett Walker for the win in 1:22.27.The Razorback victory ended the Bears' winning streak that extended back to 2007.

Arkansas won its third event of the day on Friday night when senior Brede Ellingsen jumped a height of 7 feet 1.75 inches, outlasting Jeffery Herron of Iowa.

Florida's Stipe Zunic, a native of Croatia, pulled off a big upset in the university-college men's javelin. With a throw of 244 feet and nine inches, Zunic beat 2011 NCAA champion and U.S. leader Tim Glover of Illinois State. Zunic now has won all five meets in which he has competed this year, including the Texas Relays and Florida Relays. Glover, who came in with a nation-leading throw of 266 feet and 9 inches, finished second Friday at 229 feet and 10 inches.

The hometown Drake Bulldog's performed well on Friday as both the men and women's 4x200 teams finished second in their heats. A strong anchor leg, run by sophomore Whitney Westrum (Waukee, Iowa), helped the Bulldogs stride into fifth-place in the event in a time of 1:40.38. The men, anchored by Jon DeGrave (Lake Villa, Ill.) just trailed Iowa State in their heat with a time of 1:26.08. Sophomore Kevin Harp (Iowa City, Iowa) threw a personal-best, breaking his own school record, with a throw of 209 feet and one inch, to finish fifth.

Two contestants swept each field in the men and women's wheelchair events, 100 and 800-meter races. Shirley Reilly dominated her field in times of 18.45 and 1:59.78. Erik Hightower's path was not as easy, finishing the 100 in 15.05 and coming from behind in the 800 in 1:58.42.

Nebraska junior Morgan Wilken won the women's university-college discus with a throw of 183 feet and seven inches. She out-threw closest competitor Skylar White of Baylor (176 feet and eight inches), by almost seven feet.

Tyler Donels of Southeast Polk became the seventh repeat champion in the high school boys' 110 hurdles, winning in 14.41. He will also compete in the high school boys' high jump Saturday, in which he tied for second last year.

Lydia Saggau became West Des Moines Valley's first champion in the high school girls 800-meter since Christa Holms won the race three straight years, 1987-89. Despite biting, blustery conditions, Saggau's time of 2:12.07 was the best in the state this year.

Dubuque Wahlert senior Katelyn Weimerskirch had one of the more dominating performances of the day. Her throw of 148 feet and one inch in the girls' discus was almost two feet farther than the next competitor.

Anchor runner Aisha Praught of Illinois State held off Nebraska's Ashley Miller, the 2007 Most Outstanding Performer while at Tipton, in a sprint to the finish to give the Redbirds their first Drake Relays victory in the university women's distance medley relay. Illinois State finished in 11:19.14 -- .23 seconds ahead of the Cornhuskers. Miller is a familiar name to track fans in Iowa, having won 15 state championships at Tipton High School. She will be inducted into the Iowa Girls High School Athletic Union's Track Hall of Fame at the state meet next month.

Two impressive races were run in the Mile Run Grand Blue Corporate. Former Iowa athlete Jake Berns, representing Group One Trading, shattered the Relays record of 4:29.87, running 4:20.43. On the women's side Casey Owens of SSP America was the clear victor, finishing in 5:24.37. Owens formerly ran for Missouri State.

Attendance for Friday's daytime session was 9,138 and for the evening session was 7,912, for a total Friday count of 17,150. Thursday's Distance Carnival attendance was 7,765.

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