Thursday, April 24, 2014

Dawgs take both 4 x 1600 relays at Drake...

Katie Knight, Liberty Miller, hometown heroine Katie Flood
and Eleanor Fulton are all smiles after winning the
4 x 1600 at the Drake Relays (photo courtesy UW Athletics)
DES MOINES, Iowa--The Washington Huskies, in their first appearance at the Drake Relays in ten years, made their presence known to those watching the meet at Drake Stadium, by sweeping the 4 x 1600 meter relays.

The women got things started by winning the 4 x 1600 with the team of Eleanor Fulton, Katie Knight, Liberty Miller and hometown heroine Katie Flood on the anchor, returning to the track where she won six Drake Relay titles as a prep, and the 2012 NCAA 1500 meter crown.

On the opening carry, Fulton got the Dawgs the lead with a 4:44 leg, then Knight (4:50) and Miller (4:52) maintained the lead on each leg, before passing the baton to Flood, who took it home with a 4:41 split to take the Drake title in a time of 19:09.31, 4.31 seconds ahead of Iowa State, with Arkansas third in 19:18.16.

Katie Flood takes the baton from Liberty Miller
(photo by James Kirby/The Next Level Iowa)
Asked about her favorite moment on the track, Flood couldn’t pick just one. “Someone asked me that earlier this week and I said that I couldn’t really pinpoint it,” she said. “All were very special in different ways. Coming and winning a national title was phenomenal but I think in high school there was so much that happened here with my teammates just the grit and little toughness and seeing the best in everyone.”

The quartet of Meron Simon, Nick Harris, Blake Nelson and Izaic Yorks took to the track 25 minutes later, and ran to victory in 16:21.46.

Using the same blueprint that got Washington the victory in the women's race, Simon got the Dawgs the lead with a 4:05 opening leg while Harris and Nelson maintained with 4:08 splits, before handing off to Izaic Yorks, who ran a 3:58 anchor to take the win, holding off Illinois (16:24.29), and Notre Dame (16:24.32).

“It’s pretty unreal to do it with your best friends,” said Simon. “It’s good to put in the work and have this benchmark. It shows everyone here who’s going to be able to roll when it comes to that first round of the NCAAs.”

The victory by both squads marked the third time in Drake Relays history a school had swept the 4 x 1600.  Stanford in 2003 and Minnesota in 2009 turned the trick.  This also marked the first time since 2002 that a Husky squad won a relay at Drake, with the women's sprint medley taking home a title.

Sixth-year senior Rob Webster, Jr. finished 13th in the 10000, running 30:18.58.

Earlier in the meet, Flood's Drake Relays prep record in the 3000 of 9:43.39, set while attending Dowling Catholic HS in 2010, was broken by sophomore Stephanie Jenks of Linn-Marr, who ran 9:26.87.

In the mixed zone, Flood said, "That's really great for her and it's a record that's meant to be broken."

Jenks paid tribute to Flood, stating, "I knew that this year I wanted to (break the record) because Flood was here…she was my idol when I was little. You would always hear about Katie Flood. Knowing I had a possibility to break her record made me work harder."

Friday, the Washington women will run the 4x100 and 4x400, and the men will run in the 4x800.  In addition, Kayla Stueckle and Gianna Woodruff compete in the 400 hurdles for the Huskies.  

Vancouver native Kara Patterson, and WSU grad Jeshua Anderson are in action Friday in the women's javelin, and men's 400 hurdles.  Patterson set the American record in the javelin at this venue in 2010, while Anderson won an NCAA 400 hurdles title in 2008 on the blue oval.  UW alum Katie Mackey of the Brooks Beasts runs in a stacked women's 1500.

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