DES MOINES, Iowa – The 104th running of the Drake Relays presented by Hy-Vee concluded track and field action Saturday with an outstanding afternoon on the Blue Oval. Clear skies and temperatures in the mid-60s coupled with light wind gusts made for an outstanding day of competition during the 48th straight Saturday sellout crowd in Relays history.
Attendance for the Saturday session was recorded at 14,504, tying the record since the 2006 stadium renovation set previously in 2009, 2011 and 2012. An attendance record was set at each day of the events for a total of 45,838 fans.
Seven Drake Relays records fell and six world-best marks were set on Saturday. One of the highlights of the session came in the women’s London Games Rematch of the 100-meter hurdles.
Led by Queen Harrison, the race produced the four fastest times in the world so far this year. Harrison ran 12.71 and was followed by Olympic silver medalist Dawn Harper in 12.74, Olympic bronze medalist Kellie Wells in 12.78 and Olympic finalist Lolo Jones in 12.79.
Jones, the hometown favorite, broke out to the early lead and at the midway point, the eight runners were practically even. But no one in the powerful field could match Harrison's close as she earned her first Drake Relays victory.
The inaugural Hy-Vee Cup was won in both the men’s and women’s division by Illinois. The Illini captured 36 points on the men’s side and 42 on the women’s in the combination of the scored 4x800, 4x400, 4x100, distance medley relay and sprint medley relay.
SATURDAY'S OUTSTANDING PERFORMERS
Linn-Mar's Josh Evans broke the Drake Relays record and raced to an all-time best in the high school boys 1,600 meters. Evans set a torrid pace and finished in 4:10.86 to break the Relays mark of 4:11.57 set by Pekin's Steve Griener in 1979. That also had been the previous all-time Iowa best. Dowling Catholic's Jason Thomas, last year's winner, was second in 4:14.33. Of the events currently held in the high school program, Griener's had been the longest-standing record in a race. The oldest high school record is Doug Lane's 1968 shot put mark.
Linn-Mar freshman Stephanie Jenks won the girls 1,500 meters in 4:35.22 for her second victory of the meet. Jenks won the 3,000 on Thursday and Linn-Mar has two boys relay wins, the 4x200 and sprint medley. Evans anchored the medley victory.
The fans saw four more London Games Rematches Saturday as Olympic bronze medalist Reese Hoffa treated the crowd to the longest shot put in the world to date, throwing 71-02.75 to win the London Games Rematch. It was the second Drake Relays victory for the 35-year-old thrower, who also won in 2005. Ryan Whiting, fifth in the London Games, finished second at 70-01.50.
Waving at the crowd as the sped down the stretch, Nick Willis ran the fastest mile in the world so far this year in winning the invitational event in 3:55.70. Willis, a New Zealander who won the silver medal in the 1,500 meters at the 2008 Olympics, had the previous fastest time in the world this season of 3:58.09. Five others in the race ran under four minutes. Boaz Lalang finished fifth in 3:59.64, since winning the event the last three years.
Olympic bronze medalist Zuzana Hejnova of the Czech Republic ran the fastest time in the world this year in winning the London Games Rematch women's 400 hurdles in 54.41. T'Erea Brown, who was sixth in the London Olympics, finished second in 55.27 and Ellen Wortham took third in 55.78.
Germany's Bjorn Otto followed up Wednesday's victory in the Pole Vault in the Mall by clearing 18-8 1/4 to win the London Games Rematch today. Otto, the silver medalist in London last year, beat a field that included gold medalist Renaud Lavillenie, who tied for third.
Academy of Art impressed in the women’s college/university section throughout the day. The San Francisco school that doesn't even have a track, broke the Drake Relays record and tied the American national collegiate record in the women's shuttle hurdle relay. All four runners turned in flawless legs in recording a time of 52.50 seconds. That broke the Relays and Drake Stadium record of 52.85 set in 2001 by the great Illinois team anchored by Canadian Olympian and crowd favorite Perdita Felicien. It tied the national collegiate record set by Texas A&M in 2010.
The Urban Knights also set the 4x100 relay record in 44.19. The old record was 44.59 set by Lincoln in 2009. Lincoln, which had won the race the last four years, finished second and also came in under its old record, running 44.41. Julian Purvis and Briana Stewart ran on both record-setting teams.
The fans just missed seeing another record broken by only the slightest of favoring winds which kept Mississippi's Isiah Young from breaking the Drake Relays record in the university-college men's 100. Young's time of 10.07 was faster than the meet record of 10.11, set by Alabama's Calvin Smith in 1983, but the wind of 2.1 meters per second was just over the allowable limit of 2.0.
Waukee had a double in the boy’s and girl’s 4x100 shuttle hurdle. The girl’s improved on their own all-time best in the high school girls shuttle hurdle relay, winning their second straight Drake Relays title in 1:02.84. That broke the Relays record of 1:03.29 that was set last year. Three members of Waukee's team are back from last year's winning unit: Emma Dreese, Mallory Smith and anchor Maddie Rouw.
The Warriors boys edged Cedar Rapids Kennedy by one-hundredth of a second to win the boys event. With members of the winning girls team cheering from the infield, anchor Jared Brdicko had just enough speed to edge Kennedy's Famiek Cook at the finish. Waukee was timed in 57.35, Kennedy ran 57.36 and Linn-Mar 57.54.
Iowa City High's Sarah Plock joined the state's all-time in the girls 400 hurdles at No. 8 after winning the Drake Relays title in 1:01.56. Plock was running even with Pleasant Valley's Anne Leners, the defending Relays and Class 4A state champion, when they made the final turn. But she pulled away after the last hurdle to win handily in the second-fastest time ever run at the Relays. Only A.G. Bradford's all-time best of 1:01.01 in 2008 was faster.
The 2013 Drake Relays will conclude on Sunday morning with the Hy-Vee Road Races which includes a 6k, 10k and half marathon that all finish inside historic Drake Stadium.