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Posted: April 23, 2009  : Add to Mixx!

Athletics: 43 Olympians, record holders aplenty featured at 100th Drake Relays

INDIANAPOLIS - U.S. stars Stephanie Brown Trafton, Jeremy Wariner, Lolo Jones, Adam Nelson, Alan Webb, Christian Cantwell and Michelle Carter will headline the 100th running of the Drake Relays on the campus of Drake University in Des Moines, Iowa.

The second event of the 2009 USA Track & Field Outdoor Visa Championship Series, the 100th Drake Relays will be televised April 26 from 2 p.m.-3:30 p.m. Eastern Time on ESPN2.

This year's Drake Relays, being held April 22-25 at Drake Stadium, will feature 113 events, including 20 invitational events in addition to high school and college competitions. Athletes from 66 countries will be competing in the meet, including 70 from Canada, 68 from Kenya and 49 from Jamaica. Officials expect 7,392 athletes, representing 616 teams, will participate Thursday, Friday, and Saturday at Drake Stadium.

Wariner to run 400 meters
A competitor in the invitational 200 meters in his last two Drake Relays appearances in 2006 and 2007, 2004 Olympic 400m gold medalist Jeremy Wariner will compete in his specialty Saturday at the Drake Relays.

Ranked #1 in the world at 400 meters from 2004-2007, Wariner owns two Olympic gold medals in the 4x400m relay, and was the silver medalist in the 400 meters at the 2008 Olympics in Beijing. Top women's entrant is 2008 World Indoor bronze medalist Shareese Woods.

Jones headlines 100m hurdles field
Des Moines nativeand crowd favorite Lolo Jones, the 2008 World Indoor champion, will seek her fifth straight Drake Relays title in the Asics Women's 100m hurdles, in which she posted a meet record 12.72 clocking in 2007. Jones, who won 10 of her 17 meets overall last year, including the Olympic Trials in Eugene, Ore., ended the 2008 season ranked #1 in the world.

Jones will face a strong challenge from 2003 world champion Perdita Felicien of Canada, who returns to the Drake Relays for the first time since 2005. Felicien is the owner of five Drake Relays individual career titles and was named the outstanding women's performer of the 2002 and 2003 Drake Relays. In the men's hurdles, two-time defending Drake championand #5 world-rankedAnwar Moore, who set a record of 13.39 seconds in winning the men's invitational 110 hurdles in 2005, leads the field.

Webb returns to Drake Relays
American record holder Alan Webb will return to the Drake Relays to compete in the Visa Men's Mile on Saturday for the first time since setting the Drake Relays invitational mile record of 3:51.71 on April 28, 2007. Later that summer on July 21 he set the American mile record of 3:46.91 in Brasschaat, Belgium. Also in the field are 2006 U.S. indoor 1,500m champion Chris Lukezic and Mexican national record holder Pablo Solares. The women's 1,500m includes top American Sara Hall and 2007 Drake champion Jenelle Deatherage.

Brown Trafton headlines field event action
One of the featured events of the invitational competition at Drake Stadium will be the women's discus, which returns to the Drake Relays for the first time since 1988. Headlining the event will be 2008 Olympic gold medalist Stephanie Brown Trafton, who will take one three-time Olympian and American record holder Suzy Powell-Roos and three-time Olympian Aretha Hill.

Crowd favorite Christian Cantwell, who ended the 2008 season ranked #2 in the world, enters the Drake Relays Visa Men's Shot Put as the defending champion and a six-time winner of the event. The 2008 Olympic silver medalistwill face two-time Olympic silver medalist and 2005 World Outdoor champion Adam Nelson and 2007 World Outdoor champion Reese Hoffa.

The women's invitational shot put will feature America's top four competitors from last season: Olympic Trials champion Michelle Carter, four-time USA indoor champion Jillian Camarena, two-time Olympian Kristin Heaston, and fourth-ranked Liz Wanless.

World leaders featured in high jump competitions
2008 Olympian Chaunte Howard and Texas junior Destinee Hooker both share the 2009 world outdoor lead in the women's high jump with clearances of 1.92 meters/6 feet 3.50 inches. Hooker, who owns the Drake Stadium record of 1.93m/6-4, cleared 1.90m/6-2.75 to win at the 2009 Texas Relays, while Howard cleared that height April 4 at the Tiger Classic in Auburn, Ala. Three-time OlympianAmy Acuff, who set a Drake Relays mark of 1.93m/6-4 in the women's invitational high jump in 2006, will be looking for her fifth career title in that event.

The men's invitational high jump will be headlined by 2008 Olympian Andra Manson, who posted the top outdoor men's high jump in the world this outdoor season at 2.35m/7-8.5 en route to winning the Texas Relays. Manson will face 2008 Olympic Trials champion Jesse Williams (ranked #1 U.S., #6 in the world), 2008 NCAA Indoor champion Dusty Jonas, and veteran Olympians Jamie Nieto and Tora Harris.

Others looking to soar high at the Drake Relays will be the men's pole vaulters led by 2008 Olympic Trials champion and fourth-place finisher at the Beijing Olympics, Derek Miles. He will be challenged by his Beijing Olympic teammate Brad Walker, who is the 2007 World Outdoor champion, 2006 World Indoor champion and the American outdoor record holder (6.04 meters/19 feet 9.75 inches). 2004 Olympic Games gold medalist Tim Mack will be in the field, along with Athens Olympic silver medalist Toby Stevenson. The men's pole vault will take place tonight at the Jordan Creek Town Center Mall in Des Moines.

Drake Relays heptathlon record could fall
2008 U.S. Olympian Jacquelyn Johnson should challenge the Drake Relays heptathlon record of 5,788 points, set in 2008 by Fiona Asigbee, from Columbia, Mo. Johnson owns a personal best of 6,347 points en route to finishing second at the 2008 U.S. Olympic Trials. The last time Johnson stepped on the Drake Stadium track she captured the heptathlon title at the 2008 NCAA Championships with 6,053 points.

For more information on the 100th Drake Relays, visit: www.godrakebulldogs.com.

For more information on the 2009 Outdoor Visa Championship Series, visit www.visachampionshipseries.com.

About USA Track & Field
USATF Track & Field (USATF) is the National Governing Body for track and field, long-distance running and race walking in the United States. USATF encompasses the world's oldest organized sports, some of the most-watched events of Olympic broadcasts, the #1 high school and junior high school participatory sport and more than 30 million adult runners in the United States.

For more information on USATF, visit USATF.org.


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