With a full slate of elite competition, the 104th edition of the Drake Relays were in full swing Friday as Mary Cain set the all-time high school record in the 1,500m and Jenny Simpson (women’s 1,500m), Michael Tinsley (men’s 400m hurdles) and Brittney Reese (women’s long jump) all recorded world-leading performances during evening competition. The meet continues Saturday.
Coming off an indoor season that witnessed her setting numerous records and winning a USA Indoor title, Cain placed sixth in the women’s 1,500m in a time of 4:10.77. The race was won by 2011 World Outdoor champion Simpson, who ran away from the field to finish in a world-leading time of 4:03.35.
Always a clutch performer, Reese, the reigning Olympic gold medalist, saved her best for last by reaching a world-leading mark of 6.94m/22-9.25 to win the women’s long jump on her final jump. 2012 Olympic silver medalist Janay DeLoach-Soukup finished runner-up with the second-best mark in the world this year at 6.90m/22-8.
The 2012 Olympic silver medalist, Tinsley bettered his own world-leading mark with his winning time of 48.55.
Dusty Jonas also picked up a win in the men’s high jump by clearing a height of 2.31m/7-7.
In the men’s 110m hurdles, which featured reigning Olympic gold medalist Aries Merritt and silver medalist Jason Richardson, Merritt finished second in 13.48 while Richardson was disqualified due to a false start.
Americans finished 2-3-4 in the women’s pole vault with reigning London Olympic gold medalist Jenn Suhr (4.85m/15-11) placing second followed by Kylie Hutson (4.63m/15-2.25) and Mary Saxer (4.53m/14-10.25).
Jeremy Wariner, who competed after being inducted into the Drake Relays Hall of Fame, placed second in the men’s 400m in a time of 45.35.
Specifically, during a one hour 15-minute span during Friday’s competition, there were four 2013 world outdoor track and field top marks set at Drake Stadium. That list includes: men's 400m hurdles (top two times in world); women's 1,500m (including 6 of top 11 times in world); women's pole vault (top five marks in world); women's Long Jump (top two marks in world).
A full list of results from the Drake Relays can be found here.
“Today I just wanted to come out and try to get a personal best. I am not all the way to full approaching it. I know I have some things to work on. It is basically me getting into a rhythm and this is a good meet with good competition to do that. All and all I have the world lead. That just tells me I am where I need to be right now.”
On Janay DeLoach and the field
“Having Janay helped push me today. Drake put together a great field to be able to compete and for us to be able to work. Drake did a great job to get us out here early and prepare us for the season.”
On the event
“It was good out there at first, then it got cold. With the help of the crowd that helped us a whole lot and get some good jumps for the crowd.”
On trying for a new Drake Record at 7-10:
“I think some of the misses at some of the earlier bars kind of hurt me a little bit. I was not trying to save myself, but I think it took some of my energy.”
On the event
“Overall for the kind of day and my second time out it was good. I have not practiced outdoors because I live over in Lincoln (Nebraska). So overall I am happy with my performance.”
On coming back from surgery
“I had surgery in February (2012) and I finally took a jump with tennis shoes just before Thanksgiving. I jumped seven foot so I am still working on my strength. My season progression has been good. I am looking forward to coming back for USAs.”
On tying his own record
“It is mine and Brian’s record. I tied it two years ago. In 2011 I jumped 7-7 and it is good to come back and jump that today especially after being out a whole year. It has been a long road back.”
On his history at Drake and making the Hall of Fame
“It means a lot. I came here with Baylor and the fans have always been supportive. Coming here is like running at home for me. I just want to continue to come here and put on a good show for this amazing crowd every year.”
“I should have went with him when he went to get past me, but I let Santos get away from me. Things happen. I know I have some proving to do, but I’ll get the work in.”
On his focus for the year
“Every year is different. Right now my goal is to improve my time, work on my race, and get my execution right.
On the race
“It was a good race today. The weather was actually pretty good. I was really happy and excited that there was some sunshine and the wind had died down some. When we got on the track, the wind had died down some so I just thought I’d tuck in behind the rabbit and use her as much as I can. She had mentioned that she was going to go at anywhere from 800 to 1,000 meters, so it was my job to follow her. When she stepped to the outside at 800 meters I knew without knowing splits we must have kept a pretty honest pace. In a strange way, I think that really motivated me and made me feel really good in taking over the lead because I felt relaxed and great. The next 300 meters I just tried to keep my eye on her on the outside while pushing the pace and I thought ‘two windy straights to go.’ When I got to that final lap I knew I had to close hard. The best part about the 1500 meters in the last lap while feeling strong.”
On breaking the record
“That was what the fist pumping was for at the end. I have a lot of family here, a lot of history here. My grandpa was a Drake graduate so the first thing I thought was I get to have my name on the stadium. I really didn’t think I was ready to run below the 4:05 mark this early in the season but I’m really excited to have done it.”
On the PA calling the race
“That was so exciting when I heard that I felt good. That was the only time I heard the announcer in the race was around the last 400 saying that I need to run the last lap in under 65 seconds or something like that and I was like ‘I’ve got this, I know I can do it, even with the wind.’ So it felt great. The finishing stretch was so hard because it was so windy but I was so full of joy by that point so it was not oppressive at all. I was really excited.”
“That was a good race. I broke the national record again which I was excited about. It’s a PR for me and a good first race of the season. It was hard out there I thought that it was more of a pack race but everyone was fighting their own wind out there and the last 400 I really tried to hit it hard and I gained a little bit of ground because I’m a kicker, but I think it’s harder to kick when there’s no one around.”
On the pace set by Jenny Simpson
“That was a fast pace; she was going for the 4:05 and everyone else was going strong with her. I think I struggled a little bit. I really tried to keep up and I think I can do better next time. It was really the first race, really windy, and I don’t think I could go for a 4:03 the first race so I was going in there with a different mindset than the leaders. I thought it would be a 4:08 or 4:09, but it was a great race any way.”
On the end of the race
“I’ve been training a lot on indoor tracks so I should probably try to start kicking earlier, but as I was coming through I was like ‘do I really only have one lap left?’ I’m so used to it being more laps on the track from indoor, but it’s a really good race and I’m really happy about it.”
On the Drake Relays
“I was really excited to come here because part of the reason why I’m running these races is to try to do well and push myself but it’s really to get experience running against the best because when I’m older this is really what I want to do. I’m still young and I still just have to take races like this one step at a time. Before the race I kept telling myself ‘you learn from mistakes, so if this isn’t the best race of your life, you can still learn. I wasn’t making excuses; I just really wanted to run well.”
On her growth as a runner
“I think I’ve increased so much mentally going into these races, but I used to be much more nervous before these races. I’ve matured a lot and had that been the perfect race I really could have gone faster. Wind conditions and the field, it wasn’t really my day, but it’s a lot better than a year ago.”
On how he feels after the race
“I’m alright, just a tough race today. A little tired. I ran really hard today with that tough wind and I just needed some time to catch my breath a little.”
On the race and how the crowd impacts him
“I just wanted to come out and have fun. It’s still early in the season and I’m running pretty well. The crowd was great. These guys pay a lot of money to come see us and they want to see us have a good time so I want to show the crowd a lot of love because they showed me a lot of love coming home to the line. The crowd roaring just gave me that little extra energy to get across the line first.”
On a London Games Rematch
“I run against these guys a lot during the season, all season. So to get out here and get a good race against them early lets me know that my training is going in a good direction and it lets me know that I need to keep training hard because these guys are really running hard.”
On his thoughts about the race
“The race was pretty good. I haven’t raced a field of this caliber since Brussels. It was a pretty good run even though it’s relatively early in my training since I came off of injury indoors. The wind here was pretty strong into your face, a significant amount of wind for hurdlers, and a hurdler of my stature. I’m really thin and flimsy… I’m a buck sixty nine so a lot of wind will not bode well for me so, with that being said, Andrew Riley is a really good competitor, a good athlete, he’s a really muscular guy and he’s really good at the flat 100, so he deserves a lot of credit today.”
On improving in training
“I have been, but who knows when it will show. In the hurdles, once you get your rhythm it tends to take a few weeks before you see the fruits of your labor. Training is going real well right now and had the wind not been so strong the outcome probably could have been different for everyone. Everyone was smashing hurdles because you can never get on top of your run and it’s really difficult to navigate barriers with that amount of wind. Like I said, Andrew Riley did a really good job navigating the barriers. Big props to him.”
On Andrew Riley’s history at Drake compared to his
“As you know, he’s run 10-flat to win the NCAA’s on this track. He’s won the NCAA’s in the hurdles on this track, so this track is probably like home for him. I’m really happy I was able to run the time I ran because my history on this track is not the best. My goal was really to come here and come out healthy and continue to train for the rest of the season.”
On Andrew Riley
“I really can’t focus on other people so I don’t know where he was honestly. Had he been closer to me we might have been able to use each other for momentum but he was off in lane one so I couldn’t feel him or sense him at all until the race was over. He ran a really good race.”
On her history at Drake
“My freshman year I finished fifth. Sophomore year I placed. Last year I broke the Relays record and this year I was lucky enough to repeat history.”
On her throws
“Every meet this year I just came out swinging and just trying to do my best. There wasn’t really a number in my mind, just trying to get after it.”
On her winning throw
“I was actually kind of surprised by the distance. I didn’t know what my mark was last year, I wasn’t even really shooting for it. Today felt kind of mediocre. We’re trying some new stuff in practice, so I was trying to get used to some technique changes.”