Edwin Kurgat-ISU
©Luke Lu cyclones.com 2019

Drake Relays Outstanding Performer Heads NCAA Men’s Championships

Coach Joey Woody-Iowa ©Stephen Mally/Hawkeyesports.com 2019

Coach Joey Woody-Iowa
©Stephen Mally/Hawkeyesports.com 2019

AUSTIN, TEXAS — South Dakota junior Chris Nilsen, who will be seeking his third career NCAA

Edwin Kurgat-ISU©Luke Lu/Cyclones.com 2019

 

individual title in the pole vault, headlines a list of Drake Relays performers who will be competing

in the NCAA Men’s Outdoor Track and Field Championships that gets underway Wednesday

at Mike A. Meyers Stadium on the campus of the University of Texas.

From a local area flavor, Iowa State, which won the Hy Vee Men’s Cup at the Drake Relays, will

have seven athletes competing in five events. Meanwhile, Iowa, coming off a Big Ten Conference

outdoor team title, has athletes represented in 11 men’s events with two in the 200 and 400, Both

the Cyclones and Hawkeyes also will be competing in the 4×400 relay.

Victories in the 4×800 and distance medley relays propelled the Cyclones, who won the HyVee

Cup for the first time. Three key members of those winning relays — Edwin Kurgat, Festus Lagat,

Roshon Roomes —will be running at the NCAA Championships.

Kentucky, which made its first appearance at the Drake Relays in more than 30 years, has 11

event entries — tied for sixth most at the NCAAA Championships. This is the Wildcats’ first

season under coach Lonnie Greene, who guided Purdue to 11 victories at the 2018 Drake

Relays.

Purdue has eight athletes competing in seven events, including five individual specialties: 100,

200 and 400, along with the decathlon and triple jump. In congruence with the storied history of

the Boilermaker relay teams, both the men’s 4×100- and 4×400 squads qualified, as well.

Kentucky is No. 18 in the latest men’s rankings entering the NCAA Championships, while Iowa is

ranked No. 23.

Trio On Bowerman List

Nilsen is one of three Drake Relays performers named to The Bowerman Pre-NCAA

Championship Watch List, who are considered top contenders in their respective events at the

NCAA Championships.

Kentucky junior Daniel Roberts and North Dakota State senior Payton Otterdahl, who had

impressive showings at the Drake Relays, join Nilsen on the list. The Bowerman, dubbed the

Heisman of collegiate track and field, is presented annually to the most outstanding male and

female athlete in the nation.

Nilsen and Roberts both came away with victories at this year’s Drake Relays that they’ll savor for

a long time.

Nilsen was named recipient of the Maury White Award as the Drake Relays outstanding men’s

performer when he became just the second collegian in meet history to upset a reigning World

Champion and Olympic medalist.

Nilsen, a junior and the defending NCAA outdoor champion, cleared a season-best 19-2 1/4

(5.85m) to beat Sam Kendricks, the reigning world outdoor champion. The event was moved into

the Drake Fieldhouse and that clearance was an indoor best for Nilsen, who entered the weekend

as the world leader and beat Kendricks for the first time in five tries.

Just one hour earlier, Roberts upset reigning world outdoor champ and 2016 Olympic gold

medalist Omar McLeod to win the World Showdown Invite 110 hurdles. Roberts, runner-up in the

60 hurdles at the NCAA indoor meet, ran a wind-aided 13.28 to nip McLeod by the narrowest of

margins. McLeod, a three-time Drake Relays champion and the meet record holder, finished in

13.29. It was the first loss on Drake’s Blue Oval for the former Arkansas star since 2014.

Otterdahl claimed 2019 NCAA Indoor titles in the shot put and weight throw, and will seek two

more titles in the discus and shot put this week. Otterdahl finished second behind reigning

Olympic gold medalist Ryan Crouser in the Drake Relays invitational shot put.

The collegiate indoor record holder in the shot put is the only men’s thrower ranked in the top-10

nationally in both the discus and shot put. He also is ranked No. 12 in the world in the outdoor

shot put this year.

Nilsen is one of 15 athletes who are back to defend their men’s outdoor titles. The five-time

NCAA All-American broke a 22-year-old NCAA Championships meet record in 2018 with a vault

of 19-1 .. To defend his title, Nilsen will have to duel LSU’s freshman phenom Mondo Duplantis,

who set the NCAA’s all-time record this spring with a jump of 19-8 ..

Roberts has been phenomenal this outdoor season capped by beating two-time defending NCAA

champ and 60 meter hurdler American record holder Grant Holliday of Florida in the SEC

Championships in 13.07 which tied the second fastest mark in collegiate history.

A few weeks later, Roberts went 13.13 at the NCAA East Preliminary Round for what is now the

second best mark in NCAA Championships history.

Purdue, Iowa To Challenge in Relay Events

The first running event on the track Wednesday – the 4×100 relay — will include the top three

place winners at the Drake Relays: Illinois, Purdue and Houston.

In addition, Kentucky, which won the Drake Relays 4×200 relay, along with Iowa, also will run the

4×100 relay at the NCAA meet.

Purdue is ranked No. 8 on the collegiate list after setting a school record 38.75 en route to

winning the NCAA East Prelims. Earlier Purdue captured the Big Ten title. Illinois will be making

its second straight appearance in the NCAA Championships after finishing 10th last year.

Several sprinters from those relay units also will be competing in the 100 and 200 at the NCAA

Championships.

Senior Devin Quinn, who anchored Illinois to the 4×100 relay victory at the Drake Relays, has

qualified in both the 100 and 200. The Big Ten 100 champ finished 10th in the 200 at the 2018

NCAA Outdoor meet.

Purdue senior Waseem Williams, who runs the anchor on the 4×100 relay, also is in the 100 after

running a season best 10.11 at the NCAA East Prelims. Teammate Samson Colebrooke, who

runs the first leg on Purdue’s 4×100 relay, qualified for the 200 after running a personal best of

20.46 in the NCAA East Prelims.

Iowa juniors Karayme Bartley and Antonio Woodard will be busy in their debuts at the NCAA

Championships running in the 200 as well as running legs on both the Hawkeyes’ 4×100 and

4×400 relays.

The semifinal round of the 400 which starts at 5:30 p.m. Wednesday features four sprinters

who participated in the Drake Relays led by Iowa’s Mar’yea Harris and Wayne Lawrence. Harris

is making his fourth straight appearance in the NCAA Championships, including a fourth-place

finish last year. Harris won the 400 and anchored Iowa’s wining 4×400 relay at the recent Big Ten

Outdoor meet. Lawrence is ranked 10th on the collegiate list with a top time of 45.33 at the NCAA

West Prelims.

Kentucky sophomore Dwight St. Hillaire and Purdue sophomore Brian Faust also will run in the

400. St. Hillaire, who ran the first leg on Purdue’s winning 4×200 relay at Drake, finished second

in the 400 at the 2019 SEC Outdoor meet.

Harris and Lawrence will be staples for Iowa in the 4×400 relay qualifying round at 7:18 p.m.

Wednesday. The Hawkeyes are a dark horse to contend for the 4×400 relay title, entering the

meet ranked sixth on the NCAA performance list with a season best time of 3:03.10 set at the

Florida Relays. Harris ran the second leg on Iowa’s 4×400 relay, which was second in the 2017

NCAA Championships and ninth last year. Iowa also was sixth in the 4×400 at the 2019 NCAA

Indoor meet.

Houston, which won the Drake Relays invitational 4×400 relay, is seeded third in the NCAA

Championships with a season best time of 3:02.61. Iowa State, Kentucky and Purdue also

qualified in the 4×400 relay. St. Hillaire and Faust, who are in the 400, will run the anchor legs for

Kentucky and Purdue, respectively.

Iowa State senior, Eric Fogltanz, who won the Drake Relays university-college 400 hurdles, will

run in the qualifying round of the 400 hurdles at 6 p.m. Wednesday, while also anchoring the

Cyclones 4×400 relay.

Other Drake Relays competitors in the 400 hurdles include Iowa senior Chris Douglas and

Houston’s Amere Lattin and Quivell Jordan. Douglas, who won the Big Ten title, is making his

second straight trip to the NCAA Championships. Lattin and Jordan ran legs guiding Houston to a

Drake Relays title in the invitational 4×400 relay. Lattin is ranked No. 5 on the collegiate list this

season with a top time of 49:45 at the NCAA West Prelims.

Lattin also will join Kentucky’s Roberts in the qualifying round of the 110 hurdles set for 5:02

p.m. Wednesday. Lattin ran a personal best 13:56 to captured the American Conference

Championship May 10. Iowa junior Jaylan McConico and Kentucky’s Tai Brown, who won the

Drake Relays university-college 110 hurdles, also will compete. McConico was second in both the

Big Ten and NCAA West Prelims.

Smeeton Favored in Steeplechase

Oklahoma State sophomore Ryan Smeeton, who ran the third leg on the Cowboys’ winning

4×1600 relay at the Drake Relays, is one of the favorites in the 3,000 steeplechase after posting

the fastest collegiate time this season of 8:27.90 at the Payton Jordan invitational May 2. Earlier,

he captured the Big 12 title in the steeplechase.

Qualifying heats in the 3000 steeplechase will start at 4:32 p.m. Wednesday with the field

featuring Iowa junior Nathan Mylenek and Minnesota’s Alec Basten who also competed in the

Drake Relays. Mylenek was second in the Drake Relays university-college 1500, while Basten

was second in the invitational 5,000.

Kurgat ranks No. 8 in the 5,000, which will be held at 9:25 p.m. Friday, having posted a season

best of 13:34.10 at the Cardinal Classic. Kurgat, who ran the first leg on Iowa State’s victorious

4×800 and distance medley relay teams at the Drake Relays, will be looking to improve on his

seventh-place finish in the 5000 at the 2018 NCAA Outdoor Championships. Kurgat was second

in the 10,000 and third in the 5,000 at the 2019 Big 12 Outdoor Championships.

The men’s 800 at 5:44 p.m. Wednesday will feature three runners who made their presence

known at the Drake Relays headed by the Iowa State junior duo of Festus Lagat and Roshon

Roomes, who are ranked Nos. 7 and 8, respectively, in the NCAA. Lagat ran legs on Iowa State’s

wining 4×800 and distance medley relay teams at Drake.

At the Sun Angel Classic, they ran matching 1:47.14s (Lagat was 0.003 seconds faster) to vault

into the top-10 nationally and the No. 3 and 4 spots in ISU history. At the Big 12 Outdoor

Championships, the two flipped spots in the record books with Roomes running a personal best

1:46.91 to finish third and Lagat taking fourth in 1:46.93. The two swapped spots once again at

NCAA West Prelims, with Lagat advancing in 1:46.58, while Roomes came in at 1:46.88.

Junior Michael Rhoads, who anchored the Air Force Academy to victory in the Drake Relays

men’s university sprint medley relay, also will run in the men’s 800 prelims Wednesday. Earlier,

Rhoads placed eighth in the 800 at the 2019 NCAA Indoor Championships. Rhoads, who owns

the school record in the 800 of 1:47.10, powered the Falcons to a school-record 3:19.33 clocking

to best the rest of the 12-team field at the Drake Relays by nearly 1.5 seconds.

North Dakota State Has 6 Throwers

The lone finale in the running events during Wednesday’s opening session will be the 10,000

meters at 9:08 p.m. featuring Oklahoma State senior Hassan Abdi who ran the anchor leg that

guided the Cowboys to the Drake Relays 4×1600 relay title. Adi went on to win the 10,000 at the

Big 12 Outdoor meet. It was his fourth career Big 12 title also winning the 10,000 in 2017 along

with the 2017 cross country title and a win in the 3,000 at the 2018 Big 12 Indoor

Kentucky sophomore Matthew Peare, who finished second in the Drake Relays university-college

pole vault, will join Nilsen in the pole vault finals that will start at 4:30 p.m. Wednesday.

North Dakota State tied with UCLA for the most entries in the men’s throwing events at the NCAA

meet, with six including three in the shot put.

There are fourth other Drake Relays competitors joining Otterdahl in the shot put finals at 6:40

p.m. Wednesday: UNI junior Darius King; Kentucky senior Noah Castle and North Dakota State

teammates Kristoffer Thomsen and Alex Talley.

Talley was third in the Drake Relays university-college shot put, while Thomsen was seventh,

Castle 14th and King 15th. King is coming off a personal best 63-4 . at the NCAA West Prelims.

Otterdahl and Talley are doubling up, competing as well in the discus and hammer throws,

respectively.

The hammer throw will be the first field event of the NCAA meet, being contested at 2 p.m.

Wednesday. Minnesota sophomore Kieran McKeag, who captured the Drake Relays title, is in the

field along with Talley who was third, and Iowa State senior Vlad Pavlenko who was fourth.

This will mark McKeag’s second straight trip to the NCAA Outdoor Championships. Both McKeag

and Pavlenko earned second team NCAA Indoor All-American honors in the weight throw.

Pavlenko has set the Iowa State school record twice during the outdoor campaign, while placing

second in the Big 12 Championships.

North Dakota State freshman Brendan Artley, who was second in the Drake Relays universitycollege

javelin, will compete in the javelin finals at 4:45 p.m. Wednesday.

The discus finals on Friday also include Drake Relays runner-up Charles Lenford, a junior from

Kentucky; Kentucky senior Noah Castle (7th) and South Dakota senior Ben Hammer (12th).

Otterdahl ranks No. 4 on the collegiate list this season in the discus with a personal best of 206-6

The men’s high jump final on Friday features three Drake Relays performers headed by South

Dakota junior Zack Anderson who captured the title. Kentucky sophomore Rahman Minor, who

was third at Drake and Iowa sophomore Jay Hunt (fifth), also are in the field. Anderson is a twotime

NCAA All-American who is ranked No. 5 on the collegiate list this season at 7-4.25 en route

to winning the Summit League title. Minor is coming off a season best 7-2.25 at the NCAA East

Prelim.

Purdue’s Jah Stange and Tamar Greene, who finished first and second at the Drake Relays,

respectively, will compete in the triple jump finals Friday. Greene won the Big Ten outdoor

meet, while Stange was third. Strange is ranked No. 12 on the NCAA performance list with his

season best of 53-1.5 en route to winning the Drake Relays.