Usual suspects find success at Drake Relays


Michaela Roman

Freshman distance runner Cosmas Boit, along Anthony Rotich, Abiola Onakoya and Daniel Tarango, earned gold in the distance medley relay.

Javier Cortez, Staff Reporter

After a successful showing at the Drake Relays in Des Moines, Iowa, the Miners are less than three weeks away from the Conference USA outdoor championships.

After a rocky start to the outdoor season, both men and women showed promise over the weekend at the Drake Relays. The men’s distance relay team regained their title as they took first in the distance medley, led by All-American junior Anthony Rotich.

On the women’s side, senior Janice Jackson took home the silver medal in the 100-meter hurdles and led the way for the women.

“The Drake Relays were crazy to say the least,” Jackson said. “I ended up winning my heat in prelims by a decent margin, but the 4×100 was a different story. Overall, though, the final was good for me and it was one of the better starts I have had this season.”

All in all, head coach Mika Laaksonen felt it was a good meet for the men and women.

“I think it went pretty well,” Laaksonen said. “Overall, we had a bunch of season-best times and it was probably the best weather I have ever seen at the Drake Relays in the 15 years that I have gone there.”

Weather is something that has hampered the Miners throughout their outdoor season. Both UTEP meets were plagued with wind, but the Miners still tried to perform well.

“The weather should not be an excuse,” said sophomore hurdler Sven Zellner. “For hurdles and sprinters, the wind can mess you up, especially at UTEP because the wind is too strong. Everyone has the same conditions, though, and it is an even playing field for everyone.”

Personally, Zellner didn’t feel his performance was great, but he said he is confident the men will do well at the conference championships in May.

“The Drake Relays did not go well for me, but if everybody puts forth the effort in conference and steps up we can win.” Zellner said. “We won the outdoor last year and indoor this year, so if we want to win again we need everyone to step up.”

Although there were improvements at the Drake Relays, Laaksonen said the women have outperformed the men since the start of the outdoor season.

“I think the women have stepped up as a team,” Laaksonen said. “The women actually have a chance at conference. The men have gotten a little too comfortable since the indoor season. The men are up for a rude awakening at the conference championships.”

Although it seems the men have taken a dip in performance, Anthony Rotich has been able to be successful at the meets. Laaksonen said the junior is a completely different athlete.

“Anthony does not need to run a personal-best time at the conference championships to win,” Laaksonen said. “Anthony is at a whole other level. You really don’t have to measure his performance at the conference championships.”

Jackson said that with experience aside, the women have a great chance to win the conference championship.

“I think we have just as much of a chance as anyone else,” Jackson said. “Everyone is on equal footing. Everyone has been improving and especially for the freshman who need to gain experience. Getting the race plan down and believing in yourself is key.”

Javier Cortez may be reached at [email protected]