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McMullen Wins Mile at Drake Relays

April 25, 1998

DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) _ Paul McMullen gave the Drake Relays a great race and a sub-4-minute mile to boot.

Continuing his comeback after losing parts of two toes in a lawnmower accident last summer, McMullen outran Terrance Herrington to win the mile in 3:59.12 on a blustery Saturday that also featured victories by Suzy Hamilton, Amy Skieresz and local favorites Joey Woody and Natasha-Kaiser Brown.

Iowa had a big day in the university events, late-entering SMU upset Arizona in the distance medley relay and freshman sensations Ja’Warren Hooker of Washington and Brandon Couts of Baylor showed off their speed to the sellout crowd of 18,000.

McMullen, as far back as fifth halfway through the race, caught Herrington on the final turn and beat him to the finish in just the third sub-4 mile ever run at the Drake Relays, now its 89th year. Herrington, a two-time U.S. 1,500 champion, also beat 4 minutes, finishing in 3:59.35.

``The time wasn’t spectacular, but I hope everybody today gets to go home and write about a great race,″ said McMullen, the U.S. indoor mile champion this year. ``Because that’s the way it ought to be.

``You’ve got two guys shoulder to shoulder, coming off the last corner down the straightaway with 15,000 people screaming at them to see who’s going to win. That’s what track and field’s all about.″

Former Iowa State runner Corey Ihmels tried to set a fast pace for the six-man field before dropping out with 2 1/2 laps to go. He ran a 57-second first quarter and did the first two laps in 2 minutes.

``I should have been right behind him, if you want to know the truth,″ said McMullen, who had finished third in the 800 on Friday. ``But after yesterday’s race ... I felt pretty dang sapped after it was done. I wanted to make sure today I was more patient.″

Hamilton, who won the mile in the Millrose Games and U.S. indoor championships, broke the meet record in the 800 in her outdoor debut, running 2:01.68 despite a 20-25 mph wind that hit the runners in the face on the home stretch.

She credited her training partner, Amy Wickus, for setting the right pace. Hamilton passed Wickus with about 200 meters to go and pulled away.

``Amy did a lot of the work,″ Hamilton said. ``Whenever you have to lead a race, you’re doing most of the work. That was very courageous of Amy to take the lead like that. I just followed her and with 200 to go tried to get my kick into gear.″

Hamilton broke the Drake record of 2:03.18 set by Iowa State’s Edith Nakiyingi in 1988. Wickus, like Hamilton a former Wisconsin standout, was second in 2:05.05.

Skieresz, an Arizona junior who has won five NCAA distance titles, had more trouble with the wind than her opponents in winning the 5,000. She lapped eight runners and beat second-place Mary Knisley by 25 1/2 seconds in posting a time of 16:11.61.

``The wind made it tough,″ Skieresz said. ``Every time I’d say, `It’s not going to bother me. I’ll be fine.′ Then I’d come around that turn and there it was.″

Hooker burst into the lead at the start and held off fast-closing Quinn Harris of Iowa State to win the 100 in 10.41. Harris ran 10.62 and Ronald Promesse of Texas-El Paso was third in 10.69.

For Hooker, who also plays football at Washington, facing the wind was nothing new.

``Actually, I’ve been doing it all year,″ he said. ``I haven’t had a race where there has been no wind. So I’m kind of used to it.″

Couts won the 400 in 45.04, the fastest college time of the year, then ran a 44.7 anchor as Baylor won the 1,600 relay for the seventh straight year and ninth time in 10 years. The Bears ran 3:01.39, the fastest time in the Drake Relays since 1987.

South African Clyde Colenso passed Arizona’s Abdi Abdirahman with 200 meters to go to give SMU the victory in the distance medley. Colenso covered the final 1,600 in 3:59.8 to make up a 50-yard deficit and won by 50 yards as the Mustangs finished in 9:41.98.

``I thought he would make his move at 250, but he wasn’t really doing anything,″ Colenso said. ``I sort of kicked around 200 and when I looked back, he was gone.″

Roman Oravec ran the opening 1,200 leg for SMU, which set the meet record of 9:30.45 in the sprint medley in 1983 but had not won the event since then. Alvis Hall ran the 400 and Bernard Maitai did the 800.

That group had never run together before and didn’t decide to do the race until Thursday night.

``Our coach didn’t want us to come,″ Colenso sad. ``I convinced him we could win at Drake, so he let us.″

Arizona, which had won the distance medley the last three years, was second in 9:47.43.

The Iowa team of Dion Trowers, Tony Branch, Chris Davis and Bashir Yamini upset Baylor to win the university 400 relay in 40.24. Baylor, which had the fastest qualifying time, was second in 40.39 as Iowa led all the way.

Notre Dame’s Errol Williams won the 110 hurdles in 13.77 _ the first Irish runner to win that event here since 1950.

Woody, a former Northern Iowa standout and last year’s NCAA champion, won the 400 hurdles in 48.87 seconds. Kaiser-Brown, a Des Moines native competing here for the 15th time, won the women’s 400 in 51.79. Her husband, Brian Brown, cleared 7-4 1/2 to win the invitational high jump for the second straight year.

Paula Ruen anchored Iowa to victory in the women’s shuttle hurdle relay in 56.54, then returned to the track 39 minutes later to win the 100 hurdles in 13.96. Teammate Colleen Prendergast, who also ran on the shuttle hurdle team, finished second _ just one-hundredth of a second back.

That completed a sweep of the women’s hurdles for the Hawkeyes. Iowa’s Wynsome Cole won the 400 hurdles on Friday.

Eastern Michigan’s Jenell Ali won the women’s 100 in 11.69, Georgia won the women’s 400 relay in 44.96 and Sarah Hamilton held off Iowa State’s Erin Bresnan to give Michigan a victory in the women’s 3,200 relay in 8:44.05.

Jennifer Jordan, who finished second to Kaiser-Brown, anchored Baylor to its fifth straight victory in the women’s 1,600 relay (3:32.55).

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