Christian Cantwell roars away his shot in the 2010 Millrose Games (Kirby Lee) © Copyright
Report Des Moines, USA

Cantwell opens with 21.69m effort in Des Moines - Drake Relays report

Throwers, sprinters and hurdlers produced plenty of excellent early-season performances at the 101st running of the Drake Relays which concluded on Saturday, despite weather that varied all the way from cold and windy to cold and rainy to windy and rainy – but hardly ever sunny and mild.

Christian Cantwell, coming off his World Indoor Championships victory in the Shot Put, launched his outdoor season with an impressive 21.69m effort – just 2cm off world leader Ryan Whiting’s 21.71m -- to beat perennial rival Reese Hoffa by more than a metro.  The least of Cantwell’s four fair puts measured 21.02m. Germany’s visiting Nadine Kleinert had an even easier time in the women’s shot, winning by 1.80 metres with a put of 18.67m, a new meet record.

Yet an even more stunning margin of victory was posted by Kara Patterson in the women’s javelin. Patterson managed  a throw of 61.80m despite swirling winds and intermittent rain; closest to her was Texas-El Paso’s Anna Wessman (SWE), who threw 56.20m three weeks ago at the sunny Texas Relays but could manage only 50.33m here to win the universities competition. That’s not a measure of Wessman’s ability, but of the rigour of the conditions, and it makes Patterson’s throw truly impressive. Patterson, now competing out of the USOC training centre in Chula Vista, California, says, “I’m working on consistency this year.”

Becky Breisch came up with her best throw in more than two years – 64.38m - to beat a strong discus field easily. Her victims included Gia Lewis-Smallwood (60.97m), Aretha Thurmond (60.74m), and 2008 Olympic champion Stephanie Brown-Trafton (60.12m). The best men’s discus mark was a 63.14m throw by Jarred Rome.

The hurdles, long and short, produced excellent early-season marks. In the women’s 100m Hurdles race, Damu Cherry came from behind to edge hometown heroine Lolo Jones, 12.65 to 12.68 (-0.9); Cherry’s time equals the world-leading time of Queen Harrison. In a tight 110m men’s hurdles, 2009 winner Ryan Wilson won again, but just barely: his 13.45 (-0.7) was followed by Dexter Faulk (13.47), Jason Richardson and Ryan Fontenot (both 13.50), Eric Mitchum (13.51), and Jeff Porter (13.54).

Javier Coulson served notice he is ready to rumble by cruising to a win in the men’s 400m Hurdles, clocking the year’s second-fastest time, 48.67, and Nigerian Ajoke Odumosu had an easy time winning the women’s intermediates in 56.09.

In the sprints, Lashaunte Moore took over the world lead in the women’s 100m with swift 11.06 (0.0 wind), and Wallace Spearman, running a strong curve and still finishing strongly, posted the year’s best time – 20.20 -- in the men’s 200m, aided by a legal wind of 1.3 m/s.  Greg Nixon ran a PB 45.08 to run away with a strong men’s 400m, leaving Berlin bronze medalist Renny Quow more than five metres behind.

Lalang upsets Lagat in the Mile

In the featured men’s mile, Bernard Lagat, a favorite here, was upset by his training partner, Kenyan Boaz Lalang (somewhat better known as an 800m racer). Lagat, Lalang, Peter van der Westhuizen  (RSA) and Philip Lagat (KEN), jogged along behind a pace setter’s 58, 60, and 61-second quarters, and then decided to run fast for the final 250 metres or so.

Bernard Lagat led coming into the homestretch, but could not hold off Lalang, who won in 3:56.14, a PB. After him came the Lagats, Bernard in 3:56.38 and Phillip in a PB 3:57.55, and Van Der Westerhuizen in 3:57.96.  These four times presently lead the mile world list.

Best performance in the jumps was a winning 1.96m high jump by Chaunte (Howard) Lowe, which is also the year’s leading mark.  Best relay race of the meet was the men’s 4x800m, which saw four university teams go under 7:20, with Ohio State winning in 7:17.68. Baylor University dominated the sprint relays, winning the men’s 4x100 (39.58), 4x200 (1:21.64), and 4x400 (3:03.29), and the women’s 4x400 in 3:33.32.

Finally (although it was the first final result of the four-day meeting), Diana Pickler won the Heptathlon with a good 6040 points.

James Dunaway for the IAAF

Click here for full results