April 25, 2002
DES MOINES, Iowa - Washington senior Mike Hill overcame an outstanding field and blustery weather conditions to earn a victory in the steeplechase Thursday in Des Moines, Iowa at the Drake Relays, one of the nation's premier track and field events. Hill's win highlighted the first day of Husky competition at the meet, which continues through Saturday.
This year's meet, the 93rd-annual since its beginning in 1910, features over 8,000 athletes from 86 countries, including many of the world's top professional, collegiate and prep athletes.
Slowed by a persistent wind, Hill made a move to the front at the finish and beat all other competitors to the line in 8:54.38, two seconds ahead of Wisconsin junior Isaiah Festa, who placed second in 8:56.42. The win was the third of the season for the Bellevue, Wash., senior, who posted the nation's fourth-fastest steeplechase mark with a time of 8:46.92 at the Stanford Invitational in March.
"I am just real excited to be out here and try to do my best," Hill said. "I just wanted to go out aggressive, but smart ... put myself up with the leaders and bide my time. With about three laps to go I decided to move up and was able to hold on. I guess everyone else was out of gas and I still had some left. You want to make a hard move and try to put everyone else away and hope they don't have any reaction."
Hill was just one of several Huskies competing Thursday at the prestigious meet, including a pair of competitors in the 400-meter hurdles.
Senior Kelsey Sheppard placed second in the fourth of five preliminary heats of the women's 400-meter intermediate hurdles, crossing the line in exactly 60.00 seconds to earn one of eight spots in Friday's final. Sophomore Brad Goodrich, meanwhile, ran third in his heat of the men's 400-meter hurdles, finishing in 55.11 seconds to miss the final qualifying spot by just four tenths of a second.
Also competing Thursday were a trio of Husky distance runners. Freshman Michael Kiter made waves in the 5,000 meters with an eighth-place finish in 14:38.75, while freshmen Laura Halvorsen and Camille Connelly survived a physical women's steeplechase to finish 10th and 14th, respectively. Halvorsen finished in 11:19.70, well off the blistering 10:45.57 pace set by Emory senior Sarah Byrd, while Connelly crossed the line in 11:28.35.
For the latest posted results of the Drake Relays, visit www.drakerelays.org.