2016 Drake Relays Friday Recap: Kirani James Blazes 44.08 World Leader, Jenny Simpson (4:06.44) Outkicks Kate Grace in 1500 as Mary Cain Is 8th (4:12.62)

By Jonathan Gault
April 29, 2016

2011 world champs Kirani James and Jenny Simpson put on a show for the Drake Relays crowd on Friday night, taking big wins in the men’s 400 and women’s 1500, respectively. We recap all the pro events from Des Moines below.

Full results * All LRC coverage

MB: Official 2016 Drake Relays Thread

James was terrific on Friday James was terrific on Friday

Men’s 400: Kirani James Blazes a 44.08

This race was billed as a showdown between Olympic champs Kirani James and LaShawn Merritt and it didn’t disappoint. James held a lead of about a step over Merritt entering the home stretch and held it all the way to the line, winning in a meet-record and world-leading 44.08 to Merritt’s 44.22. James’ fellow Grenadian Bralon Taplin was third in 44.92.

  1 James, Kirani                Nike                     44.08D
  2 Merritt, LaShawn             Nike                     44.22D
  3 Taplin, Bralon               Grenada                  44.92 
  4 Verburg, David               United States            45.03 
  5 Brown, Chris                 adidas                   45.82 
  6 Yousif, Rabah                Great Britain            46.14 
  7 Al-Masrahi, Yousef           Nike                     46.38 
 -- Santos, Luguelin             Puma                       DNF

Quick Take #1: 44.08 is really, really fast

44.08 is a great time, period, but James’ run was extra impressive given that it’s still April and the weather was not ideal for sprinting (48 degrees and overcast with swirling winds). Only one man has ever run faster in the month of April: world record holder Michael Johnson, who ran 43.75 in 1997.

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“It just shows that I’m on a great track to do some great things this year,” James told Lewis Johnson after the race.

Simpson powering to victory Simpson powering to victory

Women’s 1500: Jenny Simpson Looks Great in Opener

The leaders (Brenda Martinez and Heather Kampf) hit 400 meters in 65.5, spotting rabbit Kenia Sinclair about a second. Sinclair’s lead only grew over the second lap and it became apparent that there was not going to be any super fast times tonight. Martinez held the lead at 800 (2:14.4) with Simpson on her shoulder; just before the bell (3:04), Simpson assumed the lead and began the long drive for home. Martinez quickly fell off, with Kate Grace taking her place behind Simpson as they flew down the backstretch. By the final turn, Kampf and Rachel Schneider had joined Simpson and Grace.

Simpson is known for her strong final 100, however, and it was on full display today as she pulled away comfortably for the win in 4:06.44 with a 61.97 last lap. Grace came through for second in 4:07.15 with Kampf third in 4:07.26 while Martinez totally blew up on the final lap and wound up ninth (10 person field) in 4:14.21, one spot behind teen Mary Cain who as eighth in 4:12.62. Cain was with the pack until the real racing began in the final 300.

Cain had a good attitude about her finish as she’s quoted in the Des Moines Register as saying“I kind of joke with people that as soon as I got onto the American circuit, the American Circuit got really competitive. As soon as I break onto the international circuit, now everybody’s crazy fast.”

  1 Simpson, Jenny               New Balance            4:06.44       
       48.629 (48.629)     1:56.964 (1:08.335)     3:04.469 (1:07.505)
   4:06.434 (1:01.966)                                                
  2 Grace, Kate                  Oiselle                4:07.15       
       48.862 (48.862)     1:57.176 (1:08.315)     3:04.644 (1:07.468)
   4:07.145 (1:02.502)                                                
  3 Kampf, Heather               ASICS                  4:07.26       
       48.300 (48.300)     1:57.120 (1:08.820)     3:04.779 (1:07.660)
   4:07.251 (1:02.472)                                                
  4 Schneider, Rachel            Under Armour           4:08.70       
       49.058 (49.058)     1:57.584 (1:08.527)     3:05.155 (1:07.571)
   4:08.694 (1:03.540)                                                
  5 Sifuentes, Nicole            Canada                 4:08.93       
       48.654 (48.654)     1:57.299 (1:08.645)     3:04.985 (1:07.687)
   4:08.926 (1:03.941)                                                
  6 Lagat, Violah                Unattached             4:10.54       
       48.824 (48.824)     1:57.408 (1:08.585)     3:04.936 (1:07.529)
   4:10.533 (1:05.597)                                                
  7 Moser, Treniere              United States          4:11.92       
       49.203 (49.203)     1:57.739 (1:08.537)     3:05.318 (1:07.579)
   4:11.916 (1:06.599)                                                
  8 Cain, Mary                   Nike Oregon Project    4:12.62       
       48.910 (48.910)     1:57.442 (1:08.532)     3:05.515 (1:08.074)
   4:12.614 (1:07.099)                                                
  9 Martinez, Brenda             New Balance            4:14.21       
       48.431 (48.431)     1:56.884 (1:08.454)     3:04.680 (1:07.796)
   4:14.209 (1:09.529)                                                
 10 Eccelson, Amanda             Brooks                 4:22.08       
       49.069 (49.069)     1:57.535 (1:08.467)     3:07.373 (1:09.838)
   4:22.073 (1:14.700)                                                
 -- Sinclair, Kenia              Unattached                 DNF       
       47.697 (47.697)     1:55.783 (1:08.086)

Quick Take #1: Simpson starts strong, as usual

Simpson hasn’t lost her outdoor 1500 opener since 2007 and she looked great in taking her fourth 1500 win at the Drake Relays tonight.

We thought Simpson may have been injured this winter as she didn’t race at all indoors, and she suggested that may have been the case in her post-race interview but did not say for sure.

“This whole buildup of this season has been different from any other season of my life,” Simpson said cryptically after the race. We’ll be sure to follow up on that when we run into her on the circuit.

Quick Take #2: A great run for Kate Grace

The first outdoor race of Oiselle’s Kate Grace for Drew Wartenburg‘s  NorCal Distance Project was a big success. Grace, who missed the entire 2015 season due to a foot injury but ran PRs in the mile (4:28.30) and 1500 (4:06.75) indoors, continued that form tonight, just missing her 1500 pb even though the pace wasn’t that fast early and conditions (temps in the 40s) weren’t great for fast running.

Quick Take #3: What happened to Brenda Martinez?

Martinez, who was 5th at World Indoors at this distance a month ago, looked good through three laps, but once Simpson passed her, she fell apart, running her final lap in 69.53. There’s no need to panic after one bad race, but this was a night to forget for Martinez.

You can see the kinesiotape here You can see the kinesiotape here

Quick Take #4: A slight improvement on indoors for Mary Cain

Both Cain and Nike Oregon Project teammate Treniere Moser were decked out in kinesiotape tonight, with strips running along their upper and lower arms and upper and lower legs on each side of their body (perhaps Alberto Salazar’s newest innovation?). Cain’s run — 4:12.62 for 8th — was nothing to shout about, but it’s a small step forward from indoors (her sb was 4:13.46), especially when you consider conditions weren’t great for running fast.

Men’s 400 hurdles: Batman Wins It

Bershawn “Batman” Jackson won this race in typical fashion, getting out hard, backing off on the back stretch and coming on strong over the final 150 to take the victory in 49.30. He had to work for it, however, as Olympic silver medallist Michael Tinsley almost ran him down on the homestretch but came up just short, taking second in 49.36.

  1 Jackson, Bershawn            Nike                     49.30
  2 Tinsley, Michael             United States            49.36
  3 Clement, Kerron              Nike                     49.86
  4 Gibson, Jeffery              Bahamas                  49.98
  5 Bennett, LaRon               United States            50.14
  6 Stigler, Michael             adidas                   50.25
  7 Culson, Javier               adidas                   50.44
  8 Gaymon, Justin               New York Ath Club        50.95

Quick Take #1: “This season will define my legacy”

Jackson turns 33 next week and he’d like to claim another Olympic medal to add to the bronze he won in 2008.

“I feel like this season will define my legacy,” Jackson said.

He also revealed that his father passed away a month after last year’s World Championships, making for a challenging offseason.

Women’s Long Jump: Ugen Uses the Wind

Great Britain’s World Indoor bronze medallist Lorraine Ugen got revenge on World Indoor champ Brittney Reese, taking the win here with a 6.82-meter jump on her first attempt. Ugen benefited from a massive 3.5 m/s wind and took full advantage (no other measured jump had a wind greater than 2.2). Both Reese and Ugen also added to their coffers thanks to the “Leap for Loot” promotion that saw the athlete with the longest jump in each round take home an extra $1,500. Both earned $4,500 extra as Ugen had the best leap in rounds 1, 5 and 6 while Reese had the best leap in rounds 2, 3 and 4.

  1 Ugen, Lorraine               Unattached               6.82m   3.5  22-04.50
     6.82m(3.5) 6.01m(1.1) 6.61m(1.1) 6.32m(+0.0) 6.61m(1.0) 6.54m(0.9)        
  2 Reese, Brittney              Nike                     6.74m   1.5  22-01.50
     6.69m(2.0) 6.62m(1.9) 6.74m(1.5) 6.61m(1.1) FOUL      6.37m(-0.5)         
  3 Hayes, Chelsea               United States            6.32m   2.0  20-09.00
     6.32m(2.0) 6.25m(1.8) FOUL      FOUL      5.67m(0.4) FOUL                 
  4 Okagbare, Blessing           Nigeria                  6.25m   0.9  20-06.25
     6.24m(1.0) FOUL      5.97m(1.2) 6.20m(0.5) FOUL      6.25m(0.9)           
  5 Stuart, Bianca               Bahamas                  6.20m   2.0  20-04.25
     6.16m(1.1) 6.20m(2.0) FOUL      5.97m(2.2) 5.97m(0.8) 5.90m(0.2)          
  6 DeLoach, Janay               Nike                     6.18m   0.9  20-03.50
     FOUL      6.17m(0.1) 6.18m(0.9) PASS      5.58m(-0.1) 5.70m(-1.0)         
  7 Jimoh, Funmi                 Nike                     6.07m   1.8  19-11.00
     6.07m(1.8) 6.02m(2.2) FOUL      FOUL      FOUL      FOUL                  
 -- Day, Sharon                  ASICS                      DNS   NWI

Men’s High Jump: World Champ Derek Drouin Wins

Drouin and Bryan McBride both cleared 2.24m, but McBride’s miss at 2.14 cost him as Drouin won on countback.

  1 Drouin, Derek                Nike                     2.24m    7-04.25
     2.09 2.14 2.19 2.24 2.28                                             
        O  PPP    O    O  XXX                                             
  2 McBride, Bryan               Unattached              J2.24m    7-04.25
     2.09 2.14 2.19 2.24 2.28                                             
        O   XO    O    O  XXX                                             
  3 Robertson, Ricky             United States            2.19m    7-02.25
     2.09 2.14 2.19 2.24                                                  
        O    O    O  XXX                                                  
  4 Barry, Trevor                Bahamas                 J2.19m    7-02.25
     2.09 2.14 2.19 2.24                                                  
      PPP    O   XO  XXX                                                  
  5 Thomas, Donald               Bahamas                 J2.19m    7-02.25
     2.09 2.14 2.19 2.24                                                  
        O   XO  XXO  XXX                                                  
  6 Wilson, Jamal                Bahamas                  2.14m    7-00.25
     2.09 2.14 2.19                                                       
      PPP    O  XXX                                                       
  6 Mason, Mike                  Mizuno                   2.14m    7-00.25
     2.09 2.14 2.19                                                       
        O    O  XXX                                                       
  8 Davis, Geoff                 Unattached               2.09m    6-10.25
     2.09 2.14                                                            
        O  XXX                                                            
 -- Townsend, Roderick           United States               NH           
 -- Purcell, Darius              Unattached                  NH           
 -- Jonas, Dusty                 United States               NH           

Men’s Pole Vault: Barber Sweeps

World champ Shawn Barber followed up his win at Wednesday’s Capital Square Vault in Des Moines by winning at Drake, though his 5.50 winning mark was 21 centimeters lower.

  1 Barber, Shawn                Canada                   5.50m   18-00.50
     5.30 5.40 5.50 5.60                                                  
      XXO    O    O  XXX                                                  
  2 Kendricks, Sam               United States           J5.50m   18-00.50
     5.30 5.40 5.50 5.60                                                  
        O    O   XO  XXX                                                  
  3 Coover, Jeff                 Under Armour             5.30m   17-04.50
     5.30 5.40 5.50                                                       
        O  XPP   XX                                                       
 -- Scott, Jordan                Unattached                  NH           
 -- Uhle, Joey                   Unattached                  NH           
 -- Paech, Carlo                 Germany                     NH           
 -- Hollis, Mark                 United States               NH           

Women’s Shot Put: Tia Brooks Pulls the Upset

Tia Brooks took down World Indoor champ Michelle Carter by unleashing a 19.37-meter heave on her fifth attempt, tying her PR set last week.

  1 Brooks, Tia                  Nike                    19.37m   63-06.75
      18.11m  18.38m  18.48m  18.12m  19.37m  FOUL                        
  2 Carter, Michelle             Nike/NYAC               18.72m   61-05.00
      17.73m  18.23m  18.72m  17.45m  18.15m  18.62m                      
  3 Bunch, Daniela               Nike                    17.95m   58-10.75
      FOUL  FOUL  FOUL  FOUL  17.95m  FOUL                                
  4 Smith, Brittany              Nike                    17.87m   58-07.50
      17.64m  17.48m  17.75m  FOUL  17.87m  FOUL                          
  5 Camarena-Williams, Jilli     Nike                    17.73m   58-02.00
      17.73m  FOUL  FOUL  FOUL  FOUL  FOUL                                
  6 Johnson, Felisha             Nike                    17.69m   58-00.50
      17.58m  17.55m  FOUL  17.69m  FOUL  FOUL                            
  7 Stevens, Jeneva              New York Ath Club       17.46m   57-03.50
      16.78m  16.93m  16.66m  FOUL  17.46m  17.11m                        
  8 Ramsey, Jessica              Unattached              16.98m   55-08.50
      15.88m  16.90m  FOUL  FOUL  16.98m  16.36m                          


Coed Shuttle 4×110 Hurdles Relays

Heat 1 (Team Blue vs. Team Red)

Team Blue’s World Indoor champ Nia Ali ran a strong third leg to give anchor Eddie Lovett the lead and world record holder Aries Merritt could not make up the deficit as Team Blue got the win in 54.42.

Heat 2 (Team Green vs. Team White)

The first leg was crazy, with Keni Harrison slowing way down after hitting the first hurdle before Janay Deloach, who was 4th at World Indoors in the long jump, also hit a hurdle. Harrison wound up reeling her in and giving her Team Green a lead through one leg. Jamaican Andrew Riley made some ground up for Team White but Brianna Rollins broke the race open on leg three, allowing Omar McLeod to power home and give Team Green the win in 54.89. Team White was later DQ’d (we think for leaving the blocks too early on one of the legs).

  1 Team Blue                                             54.42   1            
     1) Castlin., Kristi                2) Adams., Spencer                     
     3) Ali., Nia                       4) Lovett, Eddie                       
  2 Team Red                                              54.77   1            
     1) Stowers., Jasmin                2) Parchment., Hansel                  
     3) Coward, Jacqueline              4) Merritt., Aries                     
  3 Team Green                                            54.89   2            
     1) Harrison., Kendrea              2) Harris., Aleec                      
     3) Rollins., Brianna               4) McLeod, Omar                        
 -- Team White                                               DQ   2 Rule 170.17
     1) DeLoach, Janay                  2) Riley., Andrew                      
     3) Harrison., Queen                4) Oliver., David
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