The Penn Relays, in its 117th year, is the longest uninterrupted collegiate track meet in the world and was where the relay race was invented. Today it is the preeminent relay festival in all of the world, and the Championship of America Relays are the top prize for collegiate track outside of a conference or national title. Indiana track and field heads to Philadelphia this weekend, looking to bring "wagon wheel" Penn Relays plaques and Penn Relays individual event watches back to Bloomington.
The Hoosiers haven't won a Championship of America relay since taking the men's 4xMile title in 1954. A year ago, the Hoosiers were brutally close in the 4xMile and Distance Medley Relays, even without top miler Andy Bayer. IU also was the only northern school in the championship 4x100 and 4x200 relays in 2011, led by Kind Butler. IU did get a Penn Relays crown in the women's shot put last season, with Faith Sherrill taking the win.
This season with Bayer, Butler and 2010 high jump champ Derek Drouin in tow, the Hoosiers look to be in position to bring back some hardware.
The meet will be streamed live at ThePennRelays.com for a fee, on Saturday, starting at 1 p.m. ET, NBC will have a live telecast of the meet, and Flotrack.org will be at the meet with archived race videos and interviews. Live Results are available at PennRelaysOnline.com.
LAST TIME OUT
Indiana track and field team competed at home at the Polytan Invitational and at Princeton's Larry Ellis Invitational, posting a weekend that saw Hoosiers post six marks that rank among the nation's top 10.
Indiana sent four runners to Princeton to run the 3,000m steeplechase. Those four runners finished 1-2-3-4, with four of the 10 fastest times in the nation this season, including the top two times nationally from Andrew Poore and De'Sean Turner. Poore clocked a collegiate-leading time of 8:36.41 and Turner was right behind in 8:36.61. Andy Weatherford took third in 8:42.77 and Adrien Dannemiller was fourth in 8:44.72.
In Bloomington, Breanne Ehrman took the women's steeplechase by more than 23 seconds. She clocked a time of 10:04.25, which ranks sixth in Division I this season and leads the Big Ten by seven seconds. The time is also 11 seconds better than Olympic Trials "B" standard.
Kind Butler ran a time of 46.19 to win the men's 400 meters. His time is the sixth fastest in IU history and is 20th in Division I this season. Chris Vaughn took third with a time of 47.13, which ranks ninth in IU history.
Andy Bayer clocked a time of 3:41.17 to win the 1,500. Ryan Hindes ran 52.78 to win the men's 400m hurdles, and Rex Parker took the men's triple jump with a hop, skip and jump of 14.97m (49-1.5).
Monique Riddick and Kyla Buckley went 1-2 in the hammer throw. Riddick had a winning throw of 53.99m (177-1) and Buckley launched an 18-foot PR of 53.44m (175-4). Buckley's throw is the seventh-best in IU history.
RETURN OF THE "SWEEPLECHASE"
Indiana could be called the best steeplechase program in the nation. With three Big Ten titles and six All-Americans between the women's and men's teams in the event during the past two seasons, IU has more than earned the right to enter that discussion. Last season at Big Tens, the Hoosiers placed three runners in the top four in the steeplechase, in both the men's and women's races. This season looks to be much more of the same from the Hoosiers.
Indiana sent four runners to Princeton's Larry Ellis Memorial on Fri., April 20 to run the 3,000m steeplechase. Those four runners finished 1-2-3-4, with four of the 10 fastest times in the nation this season, including the top two times nationally from Andrew Poore and De'Sean Turner.
Poore clocked a collegiate-leading time of 8:36.41 and Turner was right behind in 8:36.61. Andy Weatherford took third in 8:42.77 and Adrien Dannemiller was fourth in 8:44.72. Those times rank first, second, fifth and 10th respectively in Division I this season. Poore's time is actually .01 off his career mark, which he ran at NCAA's a year ago. Poore is the fifth-fastest American on the young season, and Turner is seventh on the American list.
Turner's time is the third-fastest in IU history, while Weatherford and Dannemiller rank seventh and eighth respectively in IU lore. The four IU seniors are first, second, fourth and sixth in the Big Ten this season. All four Hoosiers ran times better than the "B" standard for the U.S. Olympic Trials.
At the Polytan Invitational, Breanne Ehrman got in on the fun, taking the women's steeple by more than 23 seconds. She clocked a time of 10:04.25, which ranks sixth in Division I this season and leads the Big Ten by seven seconds. The time is also the second fastest in IU history and 11 seconds better than Olympic Trials "B" standard.
KING HOLDS COURT
Coming into the indoor season, Ron Helmer was forced to admit that he wouldn't have his customary near-automatic 10-point cushion at Big Tens and NCAAs with Derek Drouin entered into the high jump. The five-time Big Ten champion and three-time NCAA Champion redshirted the indoor season as he comes back from a foot injury, suffered in March, 2011.
But Helmer was pleasantly surprised when sophomore Darius King, third at Big Tens a year ago, took the win at the Big Ten meet. The junior cleared 2.22m (7-3.25) on the first attempt at Big Tens to come from behind for the win over Purdue's Geoff Davis. King followed up his stellar Big Ten meet with an even more impressive NCAA meet.
In his first NCAA meet, King cleared 2.23m (7-3.75) to tie for runner-up honors. The Hoosier has cleared 2.21m this outdoor season and is currently eighth on the Division I list.
THE COMEBACK TRAIL
A three-time NCAA Champion, four-time Big Ten Champion, three-time Big Ten Athlete of the Year, and one-time National Field Athlete of the Year, Derek Drouin has accomplished a lot in the high jump. He even has a Penn Relays title on his list of accomplishments. His next challenge might be his toughest to date however.
Last March, Drouin suffered a fracture in his jumping foot and was forced to spend six months away from full training. The junior redshirted the 2012 indoor season after missing all but the first meet of the 2011 outdoor season. He is still regaining strength and confidence in his jumping foot, and he is rounding back into top shape.
An Olympic hopeful for his native Canada, Drouin ranks 12th in Division I this season in the high jump with a clearance of 2.20m (7-2.5). His goal is to get back to 100 percent by the time the championship season comes around. Considering he cleared 2.33m (7-7.75) before his injury last year, a Derek Drouin at 100 percent would be a major coup to Indiana's hopes at winning team hardware in the postseason.
FOLLOW IU WITH SOCIAL MEDIA!
Fans of IU track and field will have access to greatly expanded coverage of the Hoosiers in 2012. Media Relations contact Kyle Johnson will be covering the Hoosiers all season long on Twitter, Facebook and IUHoosiers.com. His Twitter posts will include live updates from meets all season long.
Weekly Youtube videos, previews, recaps, photo galleries, results and much, much more will be available all season long. You can get updates on your mobile device or computer via Twitter by following Johnson at twitter.com/IUTrackXC or via Facebook at facebook.com/IUTrackXC.