SEATTLE – Qualifying times and individual efforts are (mostly) put on hold this weekend for the Husky track team, as Washington pays a visit to one of the most storied meets in American track and field, the 105th installment of the Drake Relays. The Huskies will be racing a number of different relays from Thursday to Saturday at Drake Stadium in Des Moines, Iowa, along with a handful of individual events.
Washington ran at the Drake Relays regularly in the early 2000s, but have not been back since 2004. The last wins at Drake came back in 2002, when the Husky women’s sprint medley relay team earned the win and Mike Hill won the men’s steeplechase.
While UW has not been to the Relays in a decade, they are familiar with Drake Stadium, as it has been the site of several recent NCAA Championships, including the 2012 meet where Katie Flood won the 1,500-meter title in her native Des Moines. Flood was a regular Drake Relays participant as a junior, winning six career junior titles including four in a row in the 3,000-meters.
While the Drake Relays do feature the standard relay events contested at the NCAA Outdoor Championships, the 4x100-meters and the 4x400-meters, there are many more unorthodox relays designed to let distance runners and hurdlers get to share in some relay excitement as well. And while the winners of the 4x800 and shuttle hurdle relays, to name a couple, will not be following up with the same event at NCAAs, winning at Drake brings a lot of prestige and indicates a strong program.
The Huskies are planning to compete in nine different relays over the three days. Thursday will start with the 4x1600-meters, essentially the 4xMile, for both the men and women. On Friday, the women will run the 4x100-meters and 4x400-meters, and the men will compete in the 4x800-meters. Saturday, the men and women will both go in the sprint medley relay, which features two 200-meter legs, then a 400m and an 800m leg to close. Lastly on Saturday the Huskies will run a men’s and women’s distance medley relay, an event that the UW men placed eighth in at NCAA Indoors.
In addition to the relays, a few Dawgs will be running on their own. Sixth-year senior Rob Webster Jr. is in the 10,000-meters on Thursday. Quarter-hurdlers Gianna Woodruff and Kayla Stueckle will run the hurdles on Friday, and sophomore Chris Williams will be the last to compete on Saturday in the 110m hurdles.
Running the mid-distance legs for the women will be a combination of Flood, Eleanor Fulton, Erin Johnson, Katie Knight, and Liberty Miller, with Haley Jacobson and Krista Armstead doing the sprinting with Woodruff and Stueckle.
The men’s mid-distance group has shown the most depth in a number of years so far this season, as Izaic Yorks, Blake Nelson, and Nick Harris also posting new marks on the 1,500-meter top-10 list. Those three will be running along with Meron Simon, Brad Whitley, and Derrick Daigre. Sprinters for the men will be Andrew Brown, Travis Marshall, Quadelle Satterwhite, and Williams.