Des Moines, Iowa – The assault of world-leading performances early in the outdoor track and field campaign continued Saturday during the 104th edition of the Drake Relays as Queen Harrison, Reese Hoffa and Christian Taylor all set world bests in helping push the total to 11 set throughout the meet.
Thirteen Drake Relays records were set during the four-day meet which enjoyed its 48th consecutive sellout crowd for the Saturday session with 14,504 fans.
Harrison stole the show in a London Games Rematch women's invitational 100m hurdle field that had five Olympians including 2012 Olympic gold medalist Dawn Harper and bronze medalist Kellie Wells along with hometown hero Lolo Jones, who was fourth in London.
Running out of lane two, Harrison used a great sprint after the last hurdle to out-lean Harper at the finish line and posted the fastest time in the world this season at 12.71. The race produced the top four fastest times in the world with Harper timed in 12.74, Wells 12.78 and Jones in 12.79.
Olympic bronze medalist Hoffa treated the crowd to the longest shot put in the world to date, throwing 21.71m/71-2.75 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 21.37m/70-1.5.
Taylor, the 2012 Olympic gold medalist, reset his own Drake Stadium record in the men's triple jump soaring 17.11m/56-2 to better the mark of 17.40m/57-1 he set at the 2011 NCAA Championships.
T’Erea Brown, who placed sixth in the 2012 London Games for Team USA, was second in the 400m hurdles in 55.27.
American record holder Brad Walker finished second in the London Games Rematch in the men's invitational pole vault, clearing .60m/18-4 1/2
Only the slightest of favoring winds kept Mississippi's Isiah Young from breaking the Drake Relays record in the university-college men's 100m. Young, a 2012 Olympian ran 10.07, which 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.
Alisa Harvey, 47, won first women's masters 800m at the Drake Relays in 2:17.78.
Complete results from the 104th edition of the Drake Relays can be found here.
On competing again at Drake
“It’s pretty awesome to be back, I’ve missed it the last couple years, but to be back and throw well is something huge for me. This year I’ve struggled to find my throw, and to finally get it now is pretty nice. I would say I’ve found my “up” if you will, because otherwise I’ve been pretty flat.”
On finding his throw
“Starting in the fall, we tried to do things that we were doing last year, and it throws us off a little, because we need to go back to the basics of what we would normally be doing. I think also not having an indoor season really affects it. I’ve done one event in Germany this year, where I finished second to Ryan [Whiting]. It throws me off a little because I’ve done every indoor season since I’ve been a professional, so to take a year off was a learning experience. I think it put me back a little, but I’m happy I’m finding it now.”
On what makes Drake special
“I think it’s because I’ve competed here before as a collegiate when I was at Georgia and competed here all four years. I think people remember me, if not for my incredible throwing, but because I like to put on a show. I think it’s comfortable in a way, and I seem to throw really well here and have a lot of fun. The fans are receptive to my presence. It’s awesome.”
On competition during a non-Olympic year
“I gave myself a goal, I want to defend my Diamond League championship, and also work to be the World Champion. I came into the year with a goal and a purpose, and I realized that they are very difficult, but I know if you don’t give yourself some lofty goals, it’s like ‘why I am doing this?’ and it keeps me accountable. I could slop through two seasons, and then get it together again come Olympics, but I just don’t think that is fair for the fans who come to see me throw, both at Drake and around the world.”
On competing at Drake
“It is a great meet to start off the year with, with some great competition. I was the defending champion from 2012, so I really enjoy coming back for this event. It’s a good warm up for the rest of the year.”
On his goals for the future
“My only goal right now is to make the U.S. team and since the competition will be here in Des Moines again it’s a nice advantage to have that I’ve already been here several times before.”
On competing against Resse Hoffa
“It’s good for both of us; it keeps us sharp and on our toes. We go back and forth at most meets, hopefully it will come back to my side next time.”
On his early season performance
“Obviously the focus was speed this year. Last year we did a lot of strength work and I did a couple of 200s coming into this. It’s going to be a long year trying to defend my title so I’m just keeping that in the back of my mind. I’m enjoying every day in the U.S. It’s my first competition. Last year I opened at 16.80 so anything above that is progress and a move in the right direction.”
On being back at Drake Stadium
“Besides seeing family and friends I’m glad I’m back here at Drake. If you’ve seen the stadium records or results, you know I love jumping here. I love being here and so it was an honor to get an invite to perform here against the competition.”
On the remainder of the season
“I want to keep trying new things, and doing things to keep my mind off of being too technical in the jumps. I don’t want to be locked into that box. I want to keep switching it up and keep changing. When I was young, I was doing all of these events and it was just fun. When I became professional, it became more business related, so I just want to find the fun sense again.”
On his history here, worst and best memory at Drake Stadium
“Worst memory would have to be the 4x100. I did the triple jump prelims then went straight to the 4x100 and believed in my team, but we didn’t get the baton around. That was hard, but it really pumped me up to my greatest memory which is jumping the triple jump finals right after that. You could literally hear it in the last jump how the stadium literally lifts up whoever is on at the time. I really just felt the fuel off that crowd and the frustration of that relay and used it to my advantage. My worst and best happened at the same event, and the crowd really played into that moment for me.”
On her time
“I felt like it was a really great time, especially early in the season and such a loaded field. I was a little nervous in the beginning, but I showed that my training is going well and I’m confident in switching to just hurdles this year.”
On the cluster of Lewis, Jones, Wells and Harper in the middle lanes
“I think it really helped because they are known to have really great starts so I was able to go out hard allow them to pull me through the first two hurdles, which helped me out in the backside of the race. In the middle, I couldn’t really see them, so it was good and bad because I am a really fierce competitor and even if I was next to them I would have ran just as hard.”
On beating Harper, Wells, and Jones
“It feels really good. I haven’t known what it feels like to be in the front. I’m learning again to become comfortable in the front position and comfortable with winning. I know it’s weird to say that, but when you’re at the world level, sometimes you’re a little nervous and scared of the other competitors. Now I am comfortable saying it. I am one of the best in the world.”
On the season so far
“I literally started on Monday this week. I’ve probably gone over the hurdles a handful of times. I really think that it went well.”
On Queen Harrison
“I saw Queen (Harrison), I saw someone make a move, but I was like I have what I have so let’s see how it plays out.”
On the times in the race
“It was a stacked field. Drake and Hy-Vee coming together really put together a really good quality race for my first race. You guys are awesome for doing that. That’s what you want. You want to race against the best in the world.”
On opening her season at Drake Relays
“I was a little nervous, like did I really just sign up for my first race to be at Drake. I know who they have there. I’ve ran here before. I know I have the competitive instinct and I’ll go for it every time. I really thought I had it.”
On being at Drake Relays, in Jones’ backyard
“I wish that we had something like this back home in St. Louis. It’s great that the kids can come out and knowing that this is what they want to do to see people doing what they want to compete at, the dedication it takes, and seeing it play out. I love it. People can say what they want about Lolo and I but I really appreciate to see these people that supported her from the beginning all the way to now, good or bad. Me and her were never on bad terms. I really feel like it was blown way out of proportion. We talked about it and I let her know honestly from the bottom of my heart that anything that was said never meant any harm. We are fine. I support her 100 percent.”
On the deep field
“Whenever you line up the top seven the world in one you are going to get fast times.”
On the pressure
“I did not feel pressure. A race is a race, and track is track. I line up against these girls almost every race. The U.S. Nationals is going to be here. If we are going to run Lolo’s back yard, we better get used to it.”
On the race
“This race was to piece things together. All that matters is Nationals and Worlds.”
Race after struggling in the blocks
“I tried to reel in my competition and not go crazy. I know my race and myself. If it would have happened two years ago, I would have gone crazy.”
On the race
“I thought I got out pretty good, but I’m just not race ready right now. I did the best I could out there. It was a good start and I’m impressed because it was into a head wind and the seven step is harder, so I was surprised with my race. A lot of people are going to be like ‘oh, such a disappointment, she finished fourth again’ and to those I say I ran my butt off out there. It was a great field and a great race.”
On the crowd
“As an athlete you like that, you thrive off of it. It’s my first race and they want to see that rematch. In all actuality, it’s not a London rematch, the London Games are the end of the season, this is the beginning of my season. The thing I really want is to win the gold at World Championships.”
On Queen Harrison
“She was running in lane two and the good thing about that is that you can’t see anything. You’re oblivious to the dogfight in the middle. You can sneak up in there.”
Information compiled by Mike Mahon.