2000 Kansas Relays
73rd RUNNING OF THE KANSAS RELAYS
The first Kansas Relays of the new millennium makes its way toHershberger Track from April 19-22. The 2000 Kansas Relays marks thereturn of the event which was last held in 1997. The Relays have beencancelled the previous two years due to renovations to MemorialStadium and Hershberger Track.
The 73rd running of the Kansas Relays promises to be an excitingone. A full high school field, notable collegiate performers andelite Olympic athletes will make for an exciting four days ofcompetition. One category change from the 1997 Relays involves theclassification of the collegiate athletes. In this year's Relays theuniversity and open are combined to include all collegiate athletesand any sponsored teams.
Along with a strong high school and college field several Olympichopefuls are scheduled to compete. Olympic hopeful Maurice Greene isscheduled to compete on both Friday and Saturday afternoon along withother elite members from team Nike.
KANSAS RELAYS HISTORY 101:
The concept of a major track and field meet at the University ofKansas was first espoused by legendary Kansas football coach JohnOutland. With the construction of Memorial Stadium in 1921, equippedwith a quarter-mile track, plans were put in motion for the event. OnApril 20, 1923, the first Kansas Relays under the direction ofOutland, Allen and Kansas track coach Karl Schlademan was conducted.More than 600 athletes from across the nation competed. Outlandbecame known as the "Father of the Kansas Relays."
The first decade of the Kansas Relays saw the participation ofsuch outstanding performers as Tom Poor, Jim Bausch and GlennCunningham of Kansas, Ed Weir of Nebraska, Jack Elder of Notre Dameand Tom Churchill of Oklahoma. The early days of the Relays broughtsome of the top names as referees and officials. Dr. James Naismith,known as the father of basketball, Kansas basketball All-AmericanAdolph Rupp, Notre Dame football coach Knute Rockne and famed Kansasand Michigan football coach Fielding Yost appeared.
The 1940s ushered in the retirement of Cunningham who ran his lastRelays in 1940. World War II made a major impact on the nation andcaused the cancellation of the track event from 1943-45. The Relayswere rekindled with fire in 1946 as Harrison Dillard of tinyBaldwin-Wallace College (Ohio) won the 120 high hurdles in 1946 and1948, with the latter being a world record.
The Relays were in full stride in the 1950s with the presence ofKansas head coach Bill Easton, who came from Drake in 1948. It wasthe beginning of the Jayhawks' dominance in the conference andMidwest relays circuit.
The 1960s saw a changing of the guard in Kansas track and field asEaston was replaced by Bob Timmons as head coach in 1965. Kansascontinued its dominance of the conference with the appearance ofWichita, Kan., native Jim Ryun. Perhaps the most decorated Jayhawktrack athlete ever, Ryun has four Kansas Relays most outstandingperformer titles to his credit (1966-67-69-71) for a Relays best. In1967 Ryun set what is still the Relays record in the mile run at3:54.94.
The 1970s saw the world's top sprinters come to the Kansas Relaysas Missouri and professional football standout Mel Gray won threeuniversity titles in the 100-yard dash (1969-70-71). In the open100-yard dash, Olympians John Carlos, Herb Washington and IvoryCrockett each took titles in the early 1970s.
One familiar competitor from tiny Graceland (Iowa) College wholater gained fame as a 1976 Olympic gold medalist was decathleteBruce Jenner. The 1971 titlist as a collegian, he also won the 1974crown. His 8,240 points stood as a record until 1983.
Female athletes made their first appearance in 1962 in a limitednumber of events. By 1976 a full array of women's events weresponsored. Perhaps the most dominant performer ever on the women'sside was former Nebraska standout and Olympian Merlene Ottey. She wonmost outstanding performer titles in 1981-82-83, and still owns the100 and 200-meter dash records. Former Iowa State standout andOlympic gold medalist Nawal El Moutawakel of Morocco set a collegiaterecord in the 400-meter hurdles in 1984.
The 1980s continued the stream of top athletes to Mount Oread,including a contingent from the Soviet Union in 1983. Many of the topOlympians made the historic journey to Lawrence and smashed severalrecords. Pole vaulter Joe Dial set the university and invitationalvault records en route to being named the men's outstanding performerin 1985 and 1987. Dial also was the first high school athlete to benamed as the Relays' outstanding performer when he competed forMarlow (Okla.) High in 1980. 1996 KU Olympian Scott Huffman etchedhis name in the Relays history book by being named the outstandingperformer in 1988.
A combination of speed and distance has marked the Kansas Relaysin the 1990s. After Drake sprinter Kevin Little and Kansas StateAll-America thrower Angie Miller were recognized as the topperformers in 1990, Barton County Community College won four of thenext six outstanding performer awards during the 1991-93 meets.Barton County's Inez Turner took the honor twice, winningback-to-back in 1992 and 1993.
A LOOK AT THE FIELD:
This year's high school field has over 1,600 athletes that willbe competing. Adding the 300 plus collegians involved and the openevents and the 2000 Kansas Relays should attract around 2,000competitors to Lawrence.
Due to the scheduling conflicts that occur after a two-yearlayoff, many collegiate teams have committed to other meets. KUrivals Kansas State and Missouri are scheduled to compete along withBig 12 member Oklahoma. Other college notables includeIllinois-Chicago, Washington University, Western Illinois and WesternKentucky. The college portion gets underway on Wednesday with theheptatlon and decathlon. Thursday afternoon will feature somepreliminary running events and the men's and women's hammer throw.The majority of the action is scheduled for Friday and Saturday.
Over 240 high schools will be represented in this years event. Sixdifferent states will be represented as high school events getstarted on Friday. Schools from Colorado, Kansas, Missouri, Nebraska,Oklahoma and Texas will all be competing.
A LOOK AT THE FIELD'S ELITE:
Much of the excitement surrounding the 2000 Kansas Relays is dueto the tremendous amount of elite athletes who will be competing thisweek. Headlining the group is Maurice Greene. Greene, a Kansas Citynative, is a two-time world champion in the 100-meter dash andcurrently holds the world-record in the 100-meter dash. Greene is nostranger to the Relays. Greene competed four years in the KansasRelays while attending Schlagle High School in Kansas City and thenmade trips back to the event after his prep days were over.
Greene is scheduled to compete in the men's 4x100 meter relay onFriday at 5:09 p.m. and in the 4x200 meter relay on Saturday at 3:30p.m.
Other Nike Club team members are scheduled to run the two selectedrelay events with Greene. Tim Harden, a silver medalist from the 1996games, will also be running in the selected relay events. Harden isin training to qualify for the 2000 Olympics in the 100-meterdash.
Ato Boldon will also be teaming up with Greene in the relayevents. The 24-year old Boldon has two bronze medals from the 1996Olympic games in Atlanta.
The women's sprinting events will also see a lot of heated action.Inger Miller, 1999 World Outdoor Champion in the 200-meter dash, willbe running in selected relay events. Miller trains with Greene inpreparation for making the Olympic squad.
Anjanette Kirkland, who is currently ranked fifth in the countryin the 60-meter hurdles will also compete along with Torri Edwards, aCalifornia native, who also has Olympic aspirations.
RE-SURFACED HERSHBERGER TRACK TO HOST FIRST EVENT:
People attending the Relays will notice a few changes from thelast event in 1997. Memorial Stadium will look quite a bit differentwith the addition of a press box and luxury suites.
This past fall, Hershberger Track took on a new look. The trackwas resurfaced at the cost of $178,000. One of the main reasons forthe resurfacing project was to allow the return of the Kansas Relays.This will be the first time a track event has been held in MemorialStadium since the 1997 Relays.
BRANSON FAVORED TO WIN WOMEN'S POLE VAULT:
University of Kansas All-American pole vaulter Andrea Branson isthe favorite to win the women's pole vault competition. The junior iscurrently ranked fifth in the country in the event. On the outdoorseason, Branson has claimed three first-place finishes includingcapturing the title last weekend at the Tom Botts Invitational inMissouri.
Branson is also coming off an indoor season in which she placedfifth in the country after an attempt of 13'1.5" at the NCAA IndoorTrack and Field Championships. With four All-American titles to hercredit, Branson has already qualified for the NCAA Outdoor Track andField Championships held on June 1-4 at Durham, N.C.
RUSSELL SEEKS OLYMPIC QUALIFYING MARK IN JAVELIN THROW:
Kansas junior thrower Scott Russell is looking for a mark of 282'in the javelin to be able to compete in the upcoming 2000 Olympics.Russell, an Ontario, Canada native, red-shirted the indoor season toprepare himself for the javelin during the outdoor campaign. Russellneeds to throw 282' in a meet anytime during the outdoor season andthen attend a training session to show fitness to be eligible to goto Australia and compete for Canada in the 2000 Olympics.
Russell is currently ranked first in the country in the javelinthrow and has already automatically qualified for the NCAA OutdoorChampionships in June. His throw of 259' on March 25, is currentlythe best in the nation for the 2000 outdoor season. Russell has wontwo javelin competitions and placed second at the Texas Relays, whichis considered one of the premier track meets in the country.
GRUBER SEEKS ELUSIVE FOUR-MINUTE MILE:
Kansas middle distance runner Charlie Gruber is no stranger toachieving his goals. The junior was the Big 12 Indoor ConferenceChampion in the mile with a time of 4:04.78. The All-American went onto place sixth at the NCAA meet with a time of 4:06.75.
Gruber enjoyed similar success during the 1999 season. He set thesecond fastest mark in Kansas history in the 1,000 meter run when heposted a 2:25.30 during the indoor season.
Gruber is slated to run in the mile run during the Kansas Relays.Although he's yet to run in the mile during a 2000 outdoor seasonmeet, Gruber practices the mile run daily and with the rightconditions could break the four-minute mile barrier.
The four-minute mile mark was last broke at the Kansas Relays in1996 when Michael Cox ran the event in 3:59.20. The legendary JimRyun owns the Kansas Relays record when he ran the event in 3:54.7 in1967.
NOTABLE KANSAS ALUMNI TO RETURN FOR RELAYS:
Many notable Kansas track and field alumni are returning for the73rd running of the Kansas Relays. To the right is a complete listedof those who will be in attendance. Listed below are some of theaccomplishments of the individuals.
Mark Lutz- Two-time conference champion, two-time All-American andKU Athletics Hall of Fame. Edward Lewis- 1974 4x440 Relays NationalChampion and KU Athletics Hall of Fame. Michael Ricks- two-timeconference champion and KU Athletics Hall of Fame. Sanya Owolabi-1980 Triple Jump National Champion,two-time All-American and KUAthletics Hall of Fame. Cliff Wiley- Seven-time All-American andworld-record holder in 400-meter relay. Bob Timmons- Jayhawk Trackand Field coach for 22 years with three National Championships to hiscredit. Billy Mills- 1964 Olympic Gold-Medalist, two-timeAll-American and world-record holder.