DES MOINES, Iowa – Drake Relays director Brian Brown continued to roll out world-class fields for the upcoming 2014 Drake Relays presented by Hy-Vee with the announcement of the 400-meter hurdle and pole vault fields for the World Championship Rematches.
The men’s 400-meter hurdles will feature six of the top 10 ranked hurdlers in the world with defending Drake Relays champion Michael Tinsley headlining the field. Tinsley took the silver medal at last summer’s IAAF World Championship in Moscow, Russia, and was the silver medalist at the 2012 Olympics. He will be joined by the gold medalist from the London games in Felix Sanchez and bronze medalist Javier Culson. Both advanced to the finals of the 2013 World Championships and are currently ranked eighth and ninth in the world, respectively.
Helping to complete the star-studded lineup in the event is Johnny Dutch, the fourth-ranked athlete in the hurdles and Bershawn Jackson, who is currently ranked seventh on the world list.
The women’s field is nearly as strong with the silver and bronze medalists from the 2013 World Championships ready to step into the blocks on the Blue Oval. Dalilah Muhammad will travel to Des Moines as the reigning silver medalist at the World Championships and is currently ranked third in the world. Lashinda Demus finished just behind her in Moscow but has a silver medal from the 2012 Olympics to her credit along with a No. 6 world ranking. Georganne Moline, ranked No. 4 in the event, is scheduled to compete. In 2012 she advanced to the finals of the London Olympics.
Brown also announced the foundation for the World Championship Rematch fields in the pole vault and popular Pole Vault in the Mall at Jordan Creek Town Center. Both the men’s and women’s lineups will feature familiar faces and the reigning Relays and Mall champions returning to defend their titles.
Bjorn Otto swept the men’s pole vault events last year in Des Moines and returns to Iowa after taking bronze at the World Championships. He will face two strong competitors in 2012 OIympic gold medalist and current indoor world record holder Renaud Lavillenie along with American record holder Brad Walker. All three are currently ranked in the top six in the world with Lavillenie and Otto checking in at Nos. 1 and 2, respectively.
Yarisley Silva will attempt to defend both of her 2013 Relays titles after taking bronze at the World Championships. She was also the 2012 Olympic silver medalist, but her Relays titles will again be challenged by the world’s No. 1 vaulter, Jenn Suhr. Suhr took silver ahead of Yarisley at the World Championships and was the 2012 Olympic gold medalist in the event. The top two vaulters in the world will face two other competitors ranked in the top 10 in the world in Kylie Hutson and Mary Saxer.
As the elite-level World Championship Rematch events continue to draw more athletes, Brown announced the formation of the collegiate fields that will vie for the Hy-Vee Cup for the second year. The trophy is awarded to each university/college division team that accumulates the most points in the five relay events – the 4x100, 4x400, 4x800, sprint medley and distance medley – scheduled to be staged.
Last year, Illinois won both the men’s and women’s Hy-Vee Cups and will return to Drake Stadium to defend the honor in 2014. The Fighting Illini will face stiff competition to repeat with a field that already includes the likes of Florida, Arkansas, TCU, Washington and Baylor. The men’s competition will be exceptionally strong as Arkansas and Florida began the outdoor season ranked Nos. 1 and 2, in a field that will feature eight teams in the preseason top 25.
The women’s collegiate field will mark a homecoming for Des Moines native and All-American Katie Flood. A star at the University of Washington, the Dowling Catholic product will run on the Blue Oval for the first time since winning the NCAA 1,500-meter title in 2012. As a high schooler, she won six Drake Relays titles and became just one of three women to win four-straight Relays titles, doing so in the 3,000 meters with the last coming in a record time of 9:43.39 as a senior in 2010.
The defending women’s NCAA outdoor champion Kansas will certainly present formidable competition along with Florida’s women’s team that joins the fray as the No. 4 team in the nation to make a total of six women’s teams in the competition that are ranked in the top 25.
Adding to Tuesday’s news, Brown unveiled the 2014 Drake Relays Hall of Fame class with two former competitors and a coach slated to be enshrined alongside some of the biggest stars in track and field history. Joining that illustrious group in a ceremony on Thursday, April 24 in Sheslow Auditorium inside Old Main will be Gudrun Arnardottir, John Nuttall and John Creer.
Arnardottir, a native of Koavogur, Iceland, competed for Georgia and raced in three Drake Relays. In 1993, she won the 100-meter hurdles and anchored two relays. In 1995, she won the 100-meter hurdles again and was double-champion in 1996 with her third 100-meter title and one in the 400-meter hurdles. The performance earned her Most Outstanding Performer honors before going on to represent Iceland in the 1996 and 2000 Olympics.
While competing for Iowa State, John Nuttall won the 1,500 meters in 1990 and 1991 and help lead the Cyclones to three straight 4x1,600-meter relay titles. In 1990, he was named the Relay’s most outstanding men’s performer.
This year’s inductee into the coaches’ wing of the Hall of Fame is John Creer. At Wayland Baptist, he coached his team to numerous 19 Relays titles including an unprecedented year in 1988 when Wayland Baptist won a record six relay events. Throughout his career, Creer mentored 20 individual national championships and 75 All-American performances. In his career, he coached three women’s and seven men’s teams to national championships along with two world champions and 19 Olympians, including four medalists.