April 26: Drake Relays Announce Women’s 400H And Long Jump Fields

Press Release
April 18, 2019

DES MOINES, Iowa – Five Olympians and a USA Champion highlight the field for the Drake Relays presented by Hy-Vee women’s 400-meter hurdles and long jump, Blake Boldon, the Franklin P. Johnson Director of the Drake Relays, announced Wednesday, April 17.

In the women’s long jump, Sha’Keela Saunders looks to continue her success at Drake Stadium after winning the 2018 USATF Outdoor Championship in Des Moines last summer.

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Ashley Spencer, the 2016 Olympic bronze medalist, returns after a fourth-place finish in last year’s event. She has a personal best of 53.11 in the event, which is the 22nd fastest time in the world.

Kori Carter, who owns the fastest personal best in the field, recorded her best time in the finals of the 2017 Outdoor Championships to take third place ahead of Spencer. Her time of 52.95 is the 19th fastest time ever recorded.

Tia Adana Belle, a 2016 Olympian, recorded a personal record of 54.18 just weeks ago at the Florida Relays which is the world’s fastest time this year. Belle was a two-time Division II champion in the 400-meter hurdles at St. Augustine’s.

Jaide Stepter heads to the Drake Relays coming off of a first-place finish in the 400 meters at the Millrose Games in New York. Stepter returns to the 400-meter hurdles after running the 400 meters the past few years and moving to sixth in the IAAF World Rankings.

A pair of national record holders will also compete for the title. Gianna Woodruff set the Panamanian national record with a time of 55.60 in July of 2018. Katrina Seymour of the Bahamas broke the national record with a time of 55.69 last April.

Grace Claxton of Puerto Rico rounds out the field of eight. Claxton placed eighth in the 2018 Drake Relays and reached the semifinals of the 2016 Olympics where she recorded a personal best of 55.85.

In the long jump, Sha’Keela Saunders returns to Drake Stadium, where she won the 2018 USA Championship. She is currently ranked seventh in the IAAF World Rankings. Saunders was the bronze medalist in the 2015 Pan American Games and the 2017 NCAA indoor champion while at Kentucky. Her outdoor personal best is 22-7.25 (6.89m) and came in the 2016 Olympic Trials where she finished fourth.

Former teammates at the University of Georgia, Canice Porter and Kendell Williams, have recorded the world’s sixth and seventh best marks in 2019, respectively. Porter is a two-time Jamaican National Champion and was the 2016 NCAA outdoor long jump champion. Williams is a dynamic athlete and has competed in World Championships and the Olympics in the Pentathlon and Heptathlon. In her time at Georgia, Williams recorded seven of the 10 best all-time collegiate marks in the pentathlon. Her lifetime best in the long jump is 21-11.5 (6.69m).

Two former collegiate All-Americans, Taliyah Brooks and Kylie Price, also return to the Drake Relays in the long jump. Brooks was the 2018 NCAA pentathlon champion at Arkansas and placed fifth in the collegiate division in the 100-meter hurdles in the 2015 Drake Relays. Her lifetime best in the long jump is 22-3 (6.78m). Price was a four-time all-American at UCLA and took eighth in the 2015 World University Games. In the 2017 Drake Relays, Price took fourth in the long jump. Price is the lone competitor in this year’s field who has previously competed in the long jump at the Drake Relays.

Jahisha Thomas, of Great Britain, attended the nearby University of Iowa where she was a two-time Big Ten Champion in the long jump and the triple jump. Thomas was the 2019 UK indoor runner up in the long jump and has a personal record of 21-11.5 (6.69m).

Konomi Kai was a 2016 Olympian and Japan National Champion in the long jump. Her personal best of 22-5.25 (6.84m) is the second best among the field of nine competitors. Tamaka Shimizu also has experience at the Japan National Championships with five top-five finishes in the event. Her lifetime best in the long jump is 21-3.25 (6.48m).

The final competitor in the women’s long jump is Mady Richards. An all-American at USC who graduated in 2018, Richards has a lifetime best of 21-0.75 (6.42m).

The women’s 400-meter hurdles are scheduled for Saturday, April 27, afternoon prior to the running of the men’s mile at the Blue Oval. The long jump is scheduled for Friday evening along with the men’s high jump and the women’s pole vault.

Relays Week competitions begin Tuesday, April 23, with the Grand Blue Mile on the streets of downtown Des Moines. The heptathlon and decathlon get underway in Drake Stadium Wednesday, April 24, followed by the annual Capital Square Vault. Combined events conclude Thursday, April 25, at Drake Stadium followed by the annual Distance Carnival. The action continues all day Friday and Saturday at Drake Stadium.

All-session, multi-session and single-session tickets for all of the action are available via DrakeTix.com, 515-271-3647 or visiting the Drake Athletic Ticket Office.

Women’s 400-Meter Hurdles
Name Country PR Olympics 2018 Relays Finish
Tia Adana Belle Barbados 54.18 2016
Kori Carter USA 52.95
Grace Claxton Puerto Rico 55.85 2016 8th
Yanuque Haye-Smith Turks & Caicos 55.65
Katrina Seymour Bahamas 55.69^
Ashley Spencer USA 53.11 2016 (Bronze) 4th
Jaide Stepter USA 54.95
Gianna Woodruff Panama 55.60^
Women’s Long Jump
Name Country PR Olympics 2018 Relays Finish
Taliyah Brooks USA 22-1.75 (6.75m)
Konomi Kai Japan 22-5.25 (6.84m) 2016
Chanice Porter Jamaica 22-1.75 (6.75m)
Kylie Price USA 22-2.5 (6.77m)
Mady Richards USA 21-0.75 (6.42m)
Sha’Keela Saunders USA 22-7.25 (6.89m)
Tamaka Shimizu Japan 21-3.25 (6.48m)
Jahisha Thomas Great Britain 21-11.5 (6.69m) 2nd (4×100), 2nd (Triple Jump)
Kendell Williams USA 21-11.5 (6.69m) 2016 (Heptathlon) 6th (100mH)


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