BY EMILY BONCHI
Daily Sports Writer
Published April 25, 2010
The Michigan men’s track team competed in the Drake Relays in Des Moines, Iowa this past weekend for the first time in 40 years.
The Wolverines had to be in two places at once, as they were split between that event and the highly esteemed Penn Relays (the oldest and largest track and field competition in the United States.) which took place in Philadelphia.
“I ran in (the) Drake relays myself 38 years ago,” Michigan coach Fred LaPlante said. “It’s a different atmosphere, and it’s consistently the same weekend as Penn Relays. The Penn Relays is in more of a city-like, real high-energy type of atmosphere. The Drake Relays is a very warm, friendly appreciated type of audience, where as Penn’s pace is a lot faster.”
The Drake Relays, which went from Wednesday to Saturday, saw four Michigan competitors record top-10 finishes on the final day of the meet. Senior thrower Sean Pruitt finished third in the discus, winning his heat with a throw of 53.29 meters. Junior Robert Peddlar then finished eighth in the triple jump with a jump of 14.64 meters.
The 4x400 relay team of sophomores Nicholas Neuman, Matthew Campbell, junior Carl Buchanon and freshman Aaron Taylor also finished eighth with a time of 3:09.31.
The Michigan decathletes saw success at the beginning of the competition, when sophomores Kurt Reichenbach and Joe Strizich finished eleventh and twelfth, respectively. Their scores placed them at fourth and fifth on Michigan’s all-time performance list for decathletes.
And the Wolverines found some stiff competition in Philadelphia as well, competing alongside teams ranging from high school squads to Usain Bolt and Team Jamaica.
The only Michigan field athlete to compete was senior Brendon Lodge, who finished ninth in the hammer throw with a distance of 55.34 meters.
The foursome of redshirt senior Lex Williams, senior Brandon Fellows and freshmen Brendon Blacklaws and Dallas Barden finished strong for the Wolverines in two events, securing third place in the mile relay and eighth in the 4x800 meter relay.
Williams is the nation’s leader in the 10,000-meter relay, but didn’t participate in that event, instead running in the distance medley relay with Blacklaws, Barden and junior David St. Amant. The group finished fourth in the first time the Wolverines have run in the event this season.
“Those are really great performances since there’s some really hot competition (at the Penn relays)," LaPlante said.