Reyer, Cepeda win at Drake Relays

Updated: April 26, 2007, 9:13 PM ET
Associated Press

DES MOINES, Iowa -- Southern Mississippi's Ashley Reyer won the heptathlon, and Northern Iowa's Raven Cepeda took the decathlon Thursday in the Drake Relays, a session marked by rain and chilly temperatures.

Reyer, who struggled with injuries during the indoor season, extended her first-day lead with a win in the long jump and held on to take the heptathlon by 303 points over Missouri's Kaela Rorvig.

In the decathlon, Cepeda beat his college assistant coach, Travis Geopfert, who won the event in 2004 and 2006.

The events that drew the most attention were the men's and women's special high jumps, which were held in a shopping mall in downtown Des Moines because of the weather. Four-time Drake Relays winner Amy Acuff won the women's event, and Jamie Nieto took the men's.

Both will be favorites in Saturday's invitational high jump finals.

Reyer's window of opportunity opened when Fiona Asigbee, ranked third in the United States in 2006, pulled out after tweaking her hamstring Wednesday. Finally healthy herself, Reyer leapt 18-5} in the long jump and won the event finale, the 800 meters, in 2 minutes, 15.67 seconds.

"I knew I had to come out and get a solid long jump in," Reyer said. "It was an OK long jump, but it got me through the day."

Reyer has had to compete through chronic inflammation in her pelvis and soreness in both her hamstrings and groin. Then, during a meet three months ago, a runner inadvertently kicked a hurdle into her, bruising Reyer's calf and shin bones.

"It feels like this whole year I've taken one step forward and two steps back," Reyer said. "I feel like I'm getting back on track."

In the men's decathlon, Cepeda sealed the win with a dominating performance in the pole vault, winning the event with a jump of 16-8}. Cepeda capped his day with second-place finishes in the javelin and 1,500.

Geopfert finished second, 459 points behind Cepeda.

"He was congratulating me," Cepeda said of Geopfert. He was "very proud to be a part of that as my coach and me competing with him."

The day's biggest surprises came in the women's 10,000 meters, where Division III standout Sara Spencer gave nearby Grinnell College its first individual win at the Relays. She won in 36:05.01, beating Florida's Jamie Geissler by 9 seconds.

Spencer was hoping that her competitors would burn themselves out in the early going so she could pass them late. That didn't happen, so Spencer turned on the jets after the fourth lap and cruised to victory, finishing with the fourth-best time by a Division III runner this year.

"I guess it will probably take a while for it to sink in," Spencer said. "It was just exciting to be here, let alone to have such a good race."

Copyright 2007 by The Associated Press

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