Illini to Wrap Up Regular Season at Drake Relays
April 25, 2013
CHAMPAIGN, Ill. -- The Illinois men's track and field team will head to Des Moines, Iowa, for the prestigious Drake Relays from Thursday, April 25 through Saturday, April 28, the squad's final regular season meet before the Big Ten Championships. The Illini are entered in 14 events over the three days, including five relays. Last year, Colin Mickow won the 10,000m title at Drake Stadium, adding their names to the program's rich history of Drake champions.
"Outside of the Big Ten and NCAA competition, Drake is the other thing that transcends generations of Illini track and field athletes," head coach Mike Turk said. "All of our alumni can relate and connect with our current athletes through their memories of the Drake Relays. We have a tradition of great performances and the program has experienced many thrilling moments at the Relays. We hope to continue to add to our legacy of Drake champions. New to the Drake Relays this year is team competition with the establishment of the Hy-Vee Cup. The cup champion will be determined by the awarding of points to the top finishers in the 4x1, 4x4, 4x8, sprint medley and distance medley relays. We will contest each of those relays with a qualify lineup. Over the past couple of years, we have performed very well at Drake and it has propelled us onto the Big Ten meet. This is our last meet before conference, so we have a lot to be excited about."
This year marks the 104th running of the Drake Relays. Colleges and universities from all over the United States will take part in the meet, including 1,053 men's university-college athletes with nearly 8,000 total athletes competing. The Illini have had a history of success at the Drake Relays over the years, with a record 138 event titles (66 individual and 72 relay).
Illinois will kick off competition on Thursday night under the lights in a pair of distance events. Senior Nathan Troester and freshman Paul Zeman will run the 10,000m while senior Jannis Topfer and freshman Will Brewster will race in the 5,000m.
On Friday morning, junior Vanier Joseph and sophomore Gary Ford will compete in the 110m hurdles prelims, followed by senior Steve Monte and freshman Ben Dodds in the javelin. The 4x100 relay will feature junior Julian Smith, sophomore Brandon Stryganek, junior Stephon Pamilton and sophomore DJ Zahn while the DMR squad of freshman Luke Carroll, freshman Juan Paul Green, junior Zebo Zebe and sophomore Ian Barnett wrap up the relay action during the morning session.
Illini competition on Friday afternoon will consist of four Illini taking part in the pole vault as well as the 4x400 prelims which will highlight Zahn, freshman Cameron Viney, Green and Pamilton. The 4x400 relay is coming off a very successful weekend at LSU where they clocked the fifth fastest time in the country. The Orange and Blue will end the day with the finals of the 4x800m relay.
"Our field event crew will be represented at Drake this year as well," Turk said. "We have four guys in the pole vault which speaks to the quality depth of our vault crew. We also have Brandon Noe in the discus, who has been throwing great and has a chance to place, as does Steve Monte in the javelin."
The sprint medley relay final will start the final day of competition on the track on Saturday, followed by freshman Sam Telfer in the 3,000m steeplechase. Viney, who ranks eighth in the Big Ten and is coming off a personal best in the 400m hurdles last weekend, will compete in the event on Saturday afternoon. The finals of four other events will be on Saturday, including the discus, hammer throw, 110m hurdles, 4x100m and 4x400m relays.
"A couple of other guys will have a terrific opportunity to put up big performances in individual events on the track," Turk said. "Vanier Joseph continues to improve in his return from injury and will be tested in the 110m hurdles. Cam Viney keeps rising to the occasion and improving in the 400m hurdles. I think he has set a personal best in each race this spring. We'll also roll out Jannis Topfer and Will Brewster in the 5K, Nathan Troester and Paul Zeman in the 10K and Sam Telfer in the steeplechase. Each guy can do very well. It looks like the weather forecast is awesome and with the high level of competition, this will be a lot of fun."
A complete list of Illini entrants at the Drake Relays can be found below. Live results will be linked on fightingillini.com. Friday's events will be shown live on ESPN3 starting at 6:30 p.m. CT. and a tape-delayed broadcast on Saturday evening from 7-9:30 p.m. CT. Full results and a recap following the completion of the meet can be found on fightingillini.com
Illinois Schedule at the Drake Relays
Friday, April 26
Saturday, April 27