By JACK ROSSI
DES MOINES, Iowa — The University of Iowa track and field team won the men’s 4×400 meter relay to clinch back-to-back Hy-Vee Cups at the 109th Drake Relays on Saturday.
The Hy-Vee Cup is awarded to the men’s and women’s team with the highest point total in five relays – the 4×800, distance medley relay, sprint medley relay, 4×100, and 4×400.
Iowa won its second Hy-Vee Cup since its inaugural season in 2013. After finishing second in the 3,200-meter relay on Friday night, the Hawkeyes added a runner-up finish in the sprint medley relay, third place finish in the distance medley relay, and first place finish in the 4×400-meter relay to total 32 points for the Cup.
The women placed 11th overall with six points.
“This is a great thing that Hy-Vee does for track and field and the Drake Relays,” UI director of track and field Joey Woody said. “To be able to come here and compete to win the Hy-Vee Cup is a big deal and I am really excited about the opportunity to do that.”
“We are here to recruit the best kids in the state of Iowa and this really helps that we are the best program in the state,” Woody said. “We are going to keep fighting to get the best kids in the state to come to Iowa. Both our men’s and women’s teams are moving in the right director the last couple weeks and today was a good opportunity for us to show where we are at.”
HOW IT HAPPENED
The Hawkeyes scored their first points in the 3,200-meter relay on Friday night. The relay group of Michael Melchert, Matt Manternach, Nolan Teubel, and Tysen VanDraska grabbed eight points and set the fourth-fastest time in school history with a time of 7:28.33 as they placed second.
Iowa racked up another second place finish in the sprint medley relay for eight more points. The group of Antonio Woodard, Collin Hofacker, Mar’yea Harris, and VanDraska ran the fifth-fastest time in school history at 3:18.11.
VanDraska had another close race in the distance medley relay, finishing third with a time of 9:50.70. VanDraska was joined by Nate Mylenek, Chris Thompson, and Manternach for six points and the fifth-fastest time in school history.
Iowa was disqualified during the 4×100-meter relay but put it all on the line in the 1,600-meter relay, needing a second place finish to clinch the title. Iowa ran DeJuan Frye, Hofacker, Thompson, and Harris as they posted the second fastest time of the season at 3:05.05 to win the relay and repeat as champions.
SHARPE WINS 1ST DRAKE RELAYS TITLE
In her first race on the Blue Oval, senior Sommer Sharpe won the 400-meter hurdles with a time of 59.73. Sharpe is Iowa’s first Drake Relays 400-meter hurdle champion since 1998 (Wynsome Cole). The transfer from George Mason holds the No. 5 time in Iowa history with a time of 59.20 set at Musco Twilight XIX.
TUUFULI, THOMAS, DOUGLAS EARN 2ND PLACE FINISHES
Senior Jahisha Thomas, junior Reno Tuufuli, and junior Chris Douglas all finished runner-up in the triple jump, discus, and 110-meter hurdles, respectively.
Thomas jumped closer to the triple jump school record with a new lifetime best. Thomas’ 43-foot, 8.5-inch jump solidifies her as the top jumper in the Big Ten and two inches from Renee White’s school record from 2008.
After almost fouling out, Tuufuli’s third throw (190-feet, 6-inches) in the discus put him in second place where he would hold steady for the remainder of the competition.
Junior Chris Douglas set a new lifetime best in the 110-meter hurdles with a time of 13.92. He finished second by only .01, but improves to No. 8 in program history in the event.
Iowa prepares for the Big Ten Outdoor Championships in Bloomington, Indiana, May 11-13.