The UTEP track and field squads will join approximately 7,000 athletes ranging from middle school to professional world-class athletes as the city of Des Moines hosts its 102nd Drake Relays through the week.
The event, regarded as America’s Athletic Classic, attracts the best collegiate athletes in the nation every year. For the Miners, it is a chance to compete with the nation’s best in a final preparation for the Conference USA Outdoor Track and Field Championships scheduled for May 12-13 in Houston, Texas.
Karina Garcia will kick things off for UTEP when she takes the track this evening in the women’s 10,000-meter run in the Thursday Evening Distance Carnival. Garcia took a place in the medal stand finishing third in last year’s event with a time of 36:11.64. This will be the first time the sophomore runs a 10K this season. The race is scheduled for a 7:30 p.m. (CT) start.
A full day of action for the Orange and Blue will begin at 9:48 a.m. (CT) on Friday with the men’s 4x100-meter relay. The Miners will go head-to-head with the likes of Illinois, Wisconsin, Illinois State and Northern Iowa in the third of three preliminary heats. UTEP holds the 17th-best time in the nation of 39.76 recorded at the UTEP Invitational. Also running the exchange are Baylor, Georgia, Nebraska, Iowa and Oklahoma, all have top-25 times in the event this season. At last year’s meet, the foursome of Suji Adeniyan, Anderson Mutegi, Curtis Kock and Ronalds Arajs advanced to the final with a time of 40.92 and finished fourth with a time of 39.89.
The Miners will have one athlete in each of the javelin events tomorrow morning with freshman Richard Olsson in the men’s and Laura Macauley on the women’s side. Olsson goes into the event following one of his best performances at the UTEP Invitational where he posted a personal best of 69.26m. Macauley holds the second-best mark in the league’s performance list with a distance of 48.47m set on March 26.
All-American Endurance Abinuwa will take the track in the women’s 100-meter run preliminary at 12:45 p.m. (CT). Abinuwa ranks 18th in the national list in the premier sprint event with a time of 11.29 set at the Texas Relays earlier this month.
The men will return to the track in the afternoon for the 4x400-meter relay preliminary, 4:10 p.m. (CT). Another UTEP squad will close out competition for the day when the women compete in the 4x800-meter relay final for the “Relays Under the Lights” session. The event is slated for a 7:40 p.m. start.
Competition on Saturday will begin at 9 a.m. for the Miners with Terran Alexander in the women’s hammer throw. The senior is the top-ranked (nationally) athlete in the contest with a 15th-national ranking at 60.88m. She will face Illinois State’s Brittany Smith (17th), Southern Illinois’ Olga Ciura (18th) and Michigan State’s Beth Rohl (20th).
UTEP will turn its attention to the track at 10:35 a.m. for the men’s sprint medley relay before All-American Dimitrios Fylladitakis sees action in the men’s hammer throw. Fylladitakis took silver in last year’s event with a throw of 65.38m, the senior’s best mark this season is a league-leading 67.97m.
Shall the men’s relay squads and Abinuwa qualify out of the preliminary rounds, they will compete in the final of their events on Saturday afternoon.
Miner Alum Honored
Former UTEP track star and Olympic veteran Obadele Thompson will be inducted into the Drake Relays Hall of Fame this evening alongside four other outstanding individuals.
Thompson, a three-time Olympian, claimed four NCAA titles, 11 All-American certificates and won 16 Western Athletic Conference (WAC) titles at UTEP from 1993-97.
He won the 200-meter Drake special invitational as a collegian in 1996 and then as a professional in 1998.
As sophomore at UTEP, he beat eight-time Olympic champion Carl Lewis to win the special invitational 100 by 0.13 seconds during the 1995 Drake Relays. He came back as junior to win the special 200 in 1996 as well as anchoring UTEP to victory in university division 4x100 relay in 1997.
Thompson won both the 100 and 200 at 1997 NCAA Outdoor Championships as well as claiming the 200 at the 1996 and 1997 NCAA Indoor Championships. He held numerous world rankings during his career, including; ranking No. 3 in the world in both 100 and 200 in 2000; No. 5 in the world in the 100 and No. 6 in the world in 200 in 1999; No. 6 in the world in 100 in 1998; No. 4 in the world in 200 in 1997 and No. 5 in the world in 200 in 1996. He captured the bronze medal in the 100 at the 2000 Sydney Olympic Games and was fourth in the 200 at the 1996 and 2004 Olympic Games.
Track fans can catch all the action of the 102nd Drake Relays via live webstream, available at www.GoDrakeBulldogs.com .