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Washington Wins at Drake Relays

April 24, 1999

DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) _ Running in cool, cloudy weather that was just like home, Washington pulled a surprise in the Drake Relays.

Washington’s Geoff Perry blew past Arizona’s Abdi Abdirahman in the final 10 meters Friday to give the Huskies a victory in the 6,400 relay, an event Arizona had been favored to win for the third straight year.

Abdirahman had anchored Arizona’s victory last year and appeared to be in control again, leading by a good 10 meters in the final lap.

But Perry began cutting into the lead in the final turn and eventually sprinted past Abdirahman, who neglected to look over his shoulder to check on his rival’s progress.

``He overtakes me all the time in practice so it was no surprise to me,″ said Erik Mickelson, Washington’s leadoff runner. ``Probably to Arizona it was.″

Abdirahman, the NCAA runner-up in the 5,000 last year, sped up at the last second but it was too late and he gestured in disgust with the baton after crossing the finish line.

``I knew he wouldn’t know I was there,″ Perry said. ``He probably thought it was in the bag.″

Washington’s time of 16:48.11 was the slowest since the event changed from the four-mile relay to meters in 1978. But the pace was slow and the windy, 45-degree weather wasn’t ideal for running.

``This is fine. This is the way we have it back home,″ said Perry, who added with a grin, ``That doesn’t mean we wouldn’t like to have some sunshine.″

Minnesota led after the first carry with Eric Pierce and No. 2 runner Nate Clay had the Gophers 20 meters in front at the halfway point, with Arizona second and Washington third.

Micheil Jones gave Arizona the lead on the third carry, but Washington’s Chris Ledford pulled even with him at the final exchange.

Arizona finished in 16:48.25 and Minnesota was third in 16:54.59.

The day didn’t go as smoothly for another Washington runner. Ja’Warren Hooker, the defending champion in the 100, suffered a cramp in his right hamstring in his preliminary heat and was driven out of the stadium on a cart after trainers examined him.

Though he ran just fast enough to make Saturday’s finals, it wasn’t known if Hooker would be able to run.

American record holder Jeff Hartwig won the invitational pole vault for the fifth straight year, though he fell short of the meet record he set in 1998. Hartwig cleared 18 feet, 6 1/2 inches, then missed three tries at 19-1.

He went 19- 1/4 last year.

``I burned a lot of energy staying warm,″ Hartwig said. ``I had my biggest jump at 18 feet, but I could not stay warm. I felt strong early, but I was cooling off between jumps. All in all, I’m not disappointed. My main objective was to defend my title and I did that.″

Derrick Peterson, the NCAA indoor 800 champion this year, gave Missouri a come-from-behind victory in the 3,200 relay. Peterson trailed Bobby True of Illinois by 35 meters halfway through his leg, but he turned it on in the final 400 and passed True about 20 meters from the finish.

True swerved out of his lane and Peterson had to run around him, but the Illini were not disqualified.

``I just knew that I had to get the baton and my body across the finish line,″ Peterson said. ``As I came closer and closer to the finish, I felt my momentum carry me across.″

Missouri finished in 7:24.02. Illinois ran 7:24.25.

Iowa State was disqualified after easily winning the university 800 relay, the judge ruling that anchor runner Randy Thompson got the baton from Justin Hyde before he reached the exchange zone.

Coach Steve Lynn protested and said he was told by meet officials they wouldn’t make a final ruling until talking to the judge, who had left for the day. Lynn said he can’t believe that Thompson would have been out of the zone.

``It’s the same exchange he uses every time,″ Lynn said. ``I find it difficult to think he’s done it wrong every time before.″

Oregon led from the start in winning the women’s 3,200 relay for the second straight year in 11:22, five seconds faster than second-place Texas-Arlington.

Marie Davis, who anchored last year’s victory, led off this time and Kaarin Knudson anchored. Davis said the change didn’t necessarily ease her burden.

``You don’t have the pressure of hanging on, but you do have the pressure of having to go out and get a lead,″ she said. ``We had a lot of adrenaline. Kaarin and I wanted to win this bad.″

Scott Russell of Kansas repeated as the javelin champion with a throw of 231-6 and Indiana State’s Frankie Young went 24-8 1/4 for his second straight long jump title.

Georgia’s Vigdis Gudjonsdottir won the women’s javelin for the second time in three years, throwing 165 feet, 10 inches; Minnesota’s Christine Gulbrandsen won the women’s triple jump at 41-8 3/4 and Arizona State’s Fiona Daly cleared 5-11 1/4 to win the women’s high jump. Arizona State got a second victory when Priscilla Hein won the 3,000 in 9:41.73.

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