Thursday, April 22, 2010

Numerous Washington Olympians head to Des Moines for Drake Relays...

Recent IAAF World Indoor 3000 meter champion and Washington State Hall of Famer Bernard Lagat (left/photo by Paul Merca) heads a contingent of Washington state Olympians and World Championships competitors heading to Des Moines, Iowa for this weekend's Drake Relays.

Lagat, who won his second World indoor 3000m title in Doha, will lead a strong field in the mile in his 2010 outdoor debut. Among Lagat’s challengers will be Americans Rob Myers and Jon Rankin and Pablo Solaris of Mexico who boast sub-3:55 career bests.

In the men's discus, fellow Cougar Olympian Ian Waltz heads a list of the top four nationally ranked men’s discus throwers in the United States who will compete at Drake.

Training partner and fellow world championships competitor Jarred Rome from Marysville, Waltz and Adam Kuehl, who were ranked Nos. 2,3 and 4 in the U.S., respectively, last year, also will compete, along with #1 American Casey Malone, Rashaud Scott and recent WSU grad Drew Ulrick who were ranked Nos. 8 and 9, respectively, last year.

In the women's discus, three-time U.S. Olympian Aretha Thurmond from Federal Way headlines the Drake Relays women’s invitational discus field, where she goes head-to-head with Olympic gold medalist Stephanie Brown-Trafton.

Thurmond was 10th at the 2009 World Outdoor Championship and won the 2008 U.S. Olympic Trials with a throw of 213 feet 11 inches.

Thurmond, who owns a personal best of 216-1 in 2004, is a three-time Olympian, competing in 1996 and 2004, while placing 10th at the 2008 Olympics at 196-2. She was ranked No. 6 in the world in 2006, No. 7 in 2004, No. 8 in 2003 and No. 10 in 2002.

Reigning U.S. national champion and 2008 Olympian Kara Patterson from Vancouver will compete in the Drake Relays women’s javelin.

Patterson, who won the 2009 Drake Relays university-college title, set a personal best of 209-10 at the 2009 U.S. Championship.

Patterson made her first Olympic team by winning the 2008 U.S. Olympic Trials in Eugene.

As a senior at Purdue, Patterson was second in the 2009 NCAA Outdoor Championship while winning her third straight Big Ten Conference title.

WSU graduate and 2008 Olympian Diana Pickler is currently competing in the heptathlon, which began Wednesday.

For more information on the Drake Relays, including free live streaming video of the event, please visit

NOTE: Drake University's sports information office contributed to this report.

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