Wariner opens at 45.06

Sunday, 26 April 2009 Wariner, Wilson and Taylor celebrate 100th Drake Relays in fine style

Jeremy Wariner cruising to a first round victory (Bongarts/Getty Images)

Des Moines, USA - Jeremy Wariner, Ryan Wilson and Dan Taylor celebrated the 100th running of the Drake Relays with impressive victories achieved despite cruelly cold and windy (8 C, 10-20 kph) and occasionally rainy weather on Saturday (25).

It certainly didn’t seem to bother Wariner. In his first 400m outing of 2009, the reigning two-time World champion and 2008 Olympic silver medallist ran a controlled opening 200 into a stiff headwind, then attacked the turn. He burst into the home straight with a five-metre lead which he more than doubled in the final 100, that despite shutting down well before the finish. His time, 45.06, is presently the second fastest of the year.

“It was cold, but I’ve run in worse weather than this,” said Wariner. “Two years ago I ran in Poland, it was probably about 44 degrees with cold rain. It was colder than this to me. It’s my first 400. I wanted to go under 45. Came real close, but I was happy with the way I ran. I got out fine and from the 200 to the finish I worked hard. So I was impressed with the way I ran today.”

“Last year I went to Penn Relays just to see what it was like. I kind of missed Drake. I wanted to come back this year and run for the fans. The fans here are always supportive of every athlete no matter who they are. They really get into the meet.’’

Wilson – 13.19 sec

Ryan Wilson also turned in the second fastest time of 2009 in winning the men’s 110m Hurdles. His 13.19sec (+1.0) put away a strong field, with Dexter Faulk closest in 13.30 and seventh-placer Aubrey Herring running 13.55.

Taylor sees off Cantwell, Nelson and Hoffa

In the field, Dan Taylor scored perhaps the biggest win of his career. His winning effort in the men’s Shot Put – 21.58m – left behind Christian Cantwell (21.00), Adam Nelson (20.31), Reese Hoffa (20.27) and Dorian Scott (JAM), also at 20.27.

Taylor gave credit to his new coach, the recently retired John Godina: “He’s got such insight. He was a top athlete for so long in the Shot Put. We really connect well.”

Injury to Jones

Hometown favourite Lolo Jones, winner of the women’s 100m Hurdles in the last three years, ran into bad luck. Leading for the first half of the race but pressed on both sides, she apparently pulled going into the eighth hurdle, clipped the barrier and fell to the track. A preliminary diagnosis was a tear in the right hamstring. The race was won by Tiffany Ofili in 12.82 (+3.1), edging Yvette Williams and Perdita Felicien (CAN), 12.85 to 12.86.

It’s like a tennis ball that moved down my hamstring and I felt the pop,” said Jones. “With that, I pulled up. You’ll see in the video I popped straight up and that’s why I hit the hurdle…It’s not as bad as thought. I can walk a little a bit on it. I’m not on crutches, so that’s good.”

In the men’s Pole Vault, veterans Derek Miles and Jeremy Scott tied at 5.62m, with Miles winning a jump-off by clearing 5.67, with Mark Hollis third, also at 5.62.

Other good performances – considering the weather – included Suzy Powell-Roos’ 59.15 women’s Discus Throw win over Olympic champion Stephanie Brown-Trafton (58.76); 400m Hurdles victories by 2008 Olympic finalist Tiffany Williams in 56.10 and Isa Phillips (JAM) in 49.60; a men’s 800m by Dominic Tanui (KEN), of the University of Texas at El Paso, who ran negative splits of 55-plus and 53-plus to win by more than 20m in 1:48.72; Liz Wanless, winner in the women’s Shot Put at 18.31, besting 2009 Olympians Kristin Heaston, Jill Camerena and Michelle Carter.

The weather was apparently toughest on high jumpers. Jesse Williams won from Jamie Nieto and Andra Mason, all at 2.20m, leaving behind them 2.30-or-better jumpers Keith Moffat, Tora Harris, Jim Dilling, Dusty Jonas and Scott Sellers. Similarly, women’s High Jump was won by Chaunte Howard at 1.86m.

American record holder Alan Webb won the Drake Relays Visa Men’s Mile for the first time since 2007 a race in which he ran the meet record of 3:51.71. Yesterday Webb crossed in 4:00.61 having been challenged all the way by Peter Vanderwesthu and Pablo Solares, respectively second and third in 4:00.84 and 4:00.88.

Junior record

The day before, Friday 24, the Drake Relays witnessed Natalie Willer set an American Junior record of 4.36m in the women’s Pole Vault.

Having won the event at 4.30m, the University of Nebraska freshman asked for the bar to be set a centimeter higher than the NR 4.35i she set a week ago. After two close misses she sailed over the bar cleanly on her third try. She then missed three times at 4.47.

Two other young women won throwing events on Friday. Emily Pendleton of the University of Michigan, the U.S. junior champion two years ago won the university discus with 54.84m; and Kara Paterson of Purdue University won the women’s university javelin with 54.18m.

Most of Friday’s races involved qualifying rounds or high school events, but there were two quality relay finals. The University of Wisconsin won the 4x800m relay in a good 7:22.10, and Baylor, holding up its sprint relay tradition, won the 4x200m in 1:22.01.

James Dunaway for the IAAF

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