Texas returns to Drake Relays after four years

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Pu Ying Huang

Fresh off two separate tournament wins, the Longhorns are poised to win a third straight when they begin competition in the 103rd annual Drake Relays in Des Moines, Iowa this weekend.

Kristin Otto

After UT divided and conquered last week at the Mt. SAC Relays and the Longhorn Invitational, a reunited and improved No. 10 Texas is geared up for a forge into the final regular meet of the outdoor season.

Hosted by Drake University in Des Moines, Iowa — the site of the 2012 NCAA Outdoor Championships — the 103rd Annual Drake Relays draws athletes from across the country to compete in 120 events.

While today marks the first day of multiple individual events at the meet, two dozen Longhorns are scheduled to compete in 12 track and field events over the course of Friday and Saturday.

As Texas has not made an appearance at the Relays since the meet’s centennial celebration, it will be up to the team veterans who found success as freshmen, along with head coach Beverly Kearney, to lead the less-experienced Longhorns to victory in Des Moines.

“We know it will be good competition. We are looking for good relay performances from the 4×100-meter and 4×400-meter. We are also going to be focused on the jumps and other individual areas,” Kearney said.

Burnt orange will make its first appearance at the Drake Relays tomorrow morning in the first University division event of the day. With two wins under its belt, a powerhouse Texas quartet will take on the 4×100-meter relay prelims.

Later in the afternoon, four Longhorns will also come together to run in the prelims of the 4×400-meter relay — a race in which UT currently occupies the top national seed.

Four years ago, Texas claimed victories in both events at the Drake Relays with NCAA-qualifying marks. Consequently, a lot of pressure is riding on standout Longhorns like Allison Peter, Christy Udoh and Chalonda Goodman, the three of whom will also be competing in the 100-meter prelims tomorrow afternoon, to lead UT to both relay finals on Saturday afternoon.

Rebounding from an injury with a first-place, personal-best performance at the Longhorn Invitational, Angele Cooper, who ran a leg in the 4×100-meter in 2009, will return to compete in the 400-meter hurdles.

In the field events, two seniors that will be returning to the Drake Relays include Amanda Van Dyke in the shot put and Okwukwe Okolie in the discus.

Texas athletes must remain focused at the “mega-meet” if they want a chance to return to Des Moines to compete at Nationals come June.

Printed on Thursday, April 26, 2012 as: Longhorns return to Des Moines, compete in 103rd Drake Relays