April 28, 2013
DES MOINES, Iowa - The Purdue track and field team wrapped up the Drake Relays in front of nearly 30,000 fans Friday and Saturday. The Boilermakers won a pair of events including the 4x200m relay against a talented field.
"It was an exceedingly good day," head coach Lonnie Greene said. "I thought it went pretty well. To see us win a championship on this stage is outstanding. We had a number of PRs in front of nearly 30,000 fans and that's great to see. It was just a lot of plusses this weekend for our group."
Friday night, the 4x200m relay team consisting of Eric Harris, Mario Cosey, Andrew Kendrick, and Andre' Peart shined in front of the sellout crowd. The team posted a time of 1:23.85 which was the top finish in the event and 1.64 seconds ahead of the second place team, Nebraska. The Boilermakers were 1.54 seconds off the school record which was set in 2003.
"For that team to compete as hard and well as it did and to do it in front of a sellout crowd filled all the way around track was awesome. It really was a special moment for those guys. We wanted to go out and compete as hard as we could and we did, especially in the 4x200m."
Geoff Davis was a winner on Saturday in the high jump. Davis cleared 2.19m (7-02.25) which matched the height cleared by Briar Ploude of Emporia State. However, Ploude needed more tries to clear the height and therefore Davis earned the top finish.
Dani Bunch moved into the top 25 nationally in the women's shot put with her effort on Friday. The junior threw 16.33m (53-07) to finish fifth in the event. She finished behind the top two shot putters in the country this season as well as the woman with the No. 6 mark nationally. Vanessa McLeod also had a nice day on Friday for the women. She finished second in the 800m run with a time of 2:06.77. That time was just 0.28 second behind the winning time by Megan Malasarte of Georgia. McLeod just missed her PR, and the school record, by 0.41 second.
The women's 1600-meter sprint medley relay team of Ciana Tabb, Taylor Morrison, Aarin Jones, and McLeod took third in Saturday's race. The team finished in 3:50.30 which was just over four second behind the winning time posted by Illinois. Blair Doney also had a nice day for the women on Saturday. She improved her 3,000-meter steeplechase time to 10:39.25 and finished eighth in the process. That time improves her sixth-best mark in program history.
The men's 1600m sprint medley relay team narrowly missed the school record on Saturday. The team of Harris, Cosey, Kendrick, and Kevin Griffith finished fourth with a time of 3:19.08. The winning time was just over two seconds faster while the Purdue school record is just 0.53 seconds faster. That record was set in 1983. Griffith also had a season best in the 800m run. He finished fifth in the event after crossing the finish line in 1:50.57. That time is 0.09 second faster than his previous season-best and is 0.88 second behind his all-time best which he ran last outdoor season.
Dan Porter posted a season best in the 1,500-meter run. He took fifth place with a time of 3:48.01. That time is 0.2 second faster than his previous best which he ran this season. Peart also had a PR on Saturday. He ran the third fastest 400m hurdle race in Purdue history after finishing in 51.72 seconds. That time was good for sixth in the event. He moved ahead of Adam Cornell who previously held the third-best mark in program history with a time of 51.73 from 1998. Peart is the first Boilermaker to crack the list since Cornell.
"I thought the kids competed really well all weekend," said Greene. "What I really like is that they were fighting and competing because that's what I'm looking for. I want our kids to compete and fight as hard as they can and we saw a bit of that this weekend. They really fought hard and that is exciting heading into the Big Ten Championships in a couple weeks."
The team also had a unique opportunity to meet a number of the world's greatest track athletes. The Drake Relays is known for hosting Olympic Rematch races that slate some of the top Olympic sprinters from the previous games against each other. The team was able to watch the races and even had the opportunity to chat with the athletes as well as pose for some pictures.
"They were excited to meet the Olympians and see them compete in person," said Greene. "I introduced them to a couple of the athletes who I have come to know through the years and it was a `wow' moment for some of our kids. It was eye opening for them to see the people in person they have watched and cheered for on TV. They were very excited."
The Boilermakers are back in action this weekend as they travel to Bloomington, Ind., for the Billy Hayes Invite. The meet will be on Friday.