Gophers capture third distance relay in two years

DES MOINES, Iowa -- Thanks to the crowd, Minnesota's Ryan
Ford knew he was in trouble.

So he found an extra burst of speed coming out of the final turn
and pulled away from his challengers to give the Gophers a victory
in the 6,400-meter relay at the Drake Relays on Friday.

Ford had opened a 25-meter lead after the first lap of his 1,600
leg. But by the time he reached the final 100 meters, Texas Tech's
Kevin Chelimo, Notre Dame's Todd Ptacek and Air Force's Mark Walter
were closing fast.

"I kind of go by the noise of the fans," Ford said. "At the
beginning, it was real quiet. I could hear them cheer for me and I
could wait three seconds before I could hear the next guy's cheer.

"Then at the end when the place started going crazy, I was
like, oh gosh, I've got to throw it down. Because I know they're
coming right up on me."

He had a strong enough kick to beat everyone to the finish and
give the Gophers their third relay victory in two years at Drake.
They won the distance medley and 3,200 relays last year.

Michigan won the women's distance medley relay and is now
two-thirds of the way to second straight sweep of the longer
relays. Alabama's Beau Walker set a meet record in winning the
women's 400 hurdles for the second straight year, Kansas State led
a 1-2-3 Big 12 finish in the men's 3,200 relay and Jamaican Korene
Hinds ran the world's second-best time in the women's 3,000
steeplechase after recording the fastest time two weeks ago.

Minnesota's time of 16:42.46 was the second-slowest since the
race switched from the four-mile relay to 6,400 in 1978. But the
Gophers ran the pace they needed and went ahead to stay on Ben
Hanson's second leg. Ryan Malmin led off and Trent Riter ran the
third leg.

Texas Tech was second and defending champion Notre Dame took

Michigan, the NCAA indoor champion in the women's distance
medley, had no trouble winning its second straight Drake title. No.
3 runner Katie Erdman gave Lindsey Gallo a 30-meter lead and the
Michigan anchor was able to cruise, running the final 1,600 in

Gallo anchored a victory in the 6,400 relay on Thursday and will
run the final leg for the Wolverines in the 3,200 relay on
Saturday. She anchored the Wolverines to all three of their
victories last year.

"I'm really excited to get another title," said Gallo, who was
third in the NCAA indoor mile this year. "We came here with a goal
of wanting to win another three in a row. We've got two down and
one to go."

Michigan's medley time of 11:10.80 was more than 3 seconds
faster than runner-up Missouri.

Hinds, a former Kansas State athlete, ran the steeplechase in a
Drake Stadium record 9:52.04 to easily beat a field of mostly
collegiate runners. The only faster time this year in the
little-run event was the 9:51.12 Hinds ran at the Mount SAC Relays
in California on April 15.

She was disappointed, though, because she thought she could have
run faster in both races if she had kicked a little sooner.

"I think if I had gone out with three laps to go, there was a
possibility I could take three or four seconds off," Hinds said.
"The same thing happened at Mount SAC. With three laps to go, I
felt good, but I didn't push myself to the limit. I don't want to
make that mistake a third time. Next time, I'll know what to do."

Walker, the outstanding performer in the women's division at
Drake last year, repeated her 400 hurdles title in 56.48 seconds.
She also ran a leg on the 400 relay team that had the fastest
qualifying time for Saturday's final.

Strong legs by Erik Sproll and Christian Smith gave Kansas State
a solid victory in the 3,200 relay. Sproll ran his 800 leg in
1:48.2, while Smith ran 1:48.6. The Wildcats finished in 7:21.32 to
beat Missouri (7:24.83) and Kansas (7:25.24).

Becky Breisch, the NCAA champion at Nebraska last year, had a
throw of 202 feet, 9 inches in the discus. That topped the meet
record of 194 that Breisch set last year, but she was competing
independently in the university-college event so her mark won't go
down as a record.

Andy Stoecken of Division III Loras was a surprise winner in the
university-college high jump, clearing 7-1}.