GREENE AND DRAGILA TO HEADLINE KANSAS RELAYS
March 15, 2005
LAWRENCE, Kan. – Kansas City’s own Maurice Greene will be joined by fellow Olympic Champions Stacy Dragila, Allen Johnson, Jearl Miles-Clark and Nick Hysong as headliners for the new GOLD ZONE element of the historic Kansas Relays. The GOLD ZONE is a grouping of the most popular races and field events presented in a fast-paced, three-hour schedule on Saturday afternoon, April 23rd from 2:00 – 5:00 pm in KU’s Memorial Stadium.
Other stars set to compete in the GOLD ZONE include KU’s most recent Olympian Charlie Gruber, two Missouri graduates Olympian Derrick Peterson and World Champion Christian Cantwell, World Champion and former Kansas City Chief John Capel, Leavenworth High graduate and two-time Olympian Melvin Lister, Olympian Duane Ross, and KU Hall of Fame athlete and Canadian Record Holder Scott Russell. Other championship athletes in women’s events include Kansas City, MO native and Olympic finalist Muna Lee, Olympic Champion Savatheda Fynes, Olympian Jillian Schwartz, World Championship finalist Jenny Adams, and Olympic finalist Amy Acuff. Additional appearances by Olympic athletes will be announced in the coming weeks.
“The GOLD ZONE is the next evolution of the Kansas Relays,” said Tim Weaver, now in his sixth year as Meet Director. “This finite collection of events, stacked with world-class fields and household names like Maurice and Stacy, will be the best three hours of track and field Memorial Stadium has ever witnessed. With Allen, Amy, Nick, Jearl, Muna, Christian and John we will have some of the premiere champions in the sport of track and field. Add to that the finals of popular high school and college events and it’s a winning formula. We’ve asked fans what they want to see and their answer was clear: the finals of the dashes, short relays, the mile, a steeplechase, and the hurdles. They want to see Olympians and champions in every event, and that’s what we are going to deliver. This is not your father’s — or even your older brother’s — Kansas Relays.”
The 2000 Olympic gold medallist in both the 100-meter and 4 x 100-meter relay, Greene added 100-meter Bronze and 4 x 100-meter relay silver medals at the 2004 Athens Games. He set the world record in the 100-meter dash, 50-meter dash, and 60-meter dash. Crowned a World Champion on six occasions, Greene graduated from Schlagle High School in Kansas City, KS in 1993. Three of the four fastest times ever recorded in the 100-meter dash belong to him.
“It is always special to return to Kansas and run in front of the home fans,” said Greene. “I’ve run there since high school and it’s a special place. HSI has been training very well this year and we’re going after a very fast time in the 4×100 this spring. That’s our mission at the Kansas Relays.”
“Maurice is the greatest Kansas-born Olympian without question; the man has four Olympic medals,” said Weaver. “He has been the man to beat in the 100m dash since 1997. That sort of sprint power over so many years is almost unheard of. There are not many chances to see an athlete of Maurice’s caliber, so each time he returns for the Kansas Relays is a special occasion. For 2005, he’s coming to Lawrence with three of the best sprinters in the world as his HSI teammates and they’ve made it their mission to throw down some eye-opening relay times this spring. I expect a huge crowd to come welcome Maurice home and cheer him on as he goes for another record.”
The foremost figure in women’s pole vault history, Dragila has been crowned the U.S. Champion an astounding 16 times. She has set scores of world records, breaking the mark an amazing eight times in 2001 alone. Dragila has won the World Championship title on three occasions. A pioneer in this event, it most often takes a world record performance to defeat her. Twice she has been named the Jesse Owens Award winner, the highest honor given to an American track & field athlete.
“KU has an awesome history of vaulters with guys like Pat Manson and Scott Huffman. Plus, the Kansas Relays was one of the first major meets to offer a women’s pole vault competition back in ’96,” said Dragila. “I’m looking forward to getting my outdoor season rolling in Lawrence and putting on a great show for the fans. My training is going very well and I’m anxious to get back on the competition runway.”
“As Mo has done in the sprints, Stacy has been the central figure the vault for almost a decade,” said Weaver. “She was the first World Champion and the first Olympic Champion. She won the first women’s vault competition at the Kansas Relays too. Stacy is one of the most entertaining athletes in our sport; she really knows how to get the crowd involved in each of her attempts. We are very fortunate to have her back in Memorial Stadium this year.”
The Olympic Champion at the 1996 Atlanta Games, Johnson was also a member of the 2000 and 2004 Olympic teams. He has captured an unprecedented seven gold medals in World Championship competition. A ten-time US Champion in the hurdles, Johnson holds the American record in both the 110-meter hurdles and the indoor 60-meter hurdles. He is a versatile athlete; Johnson was also part of the 1997 World Championship 4×400-meter relay gold medal team for the United States.
“I’ve never competed at the Kansas Relays, but I’ve heard great things recently about the meet and I’m excited to compete at KU. I hope to give the crowd a fast race and add a Kansas Relays title to my collection,” said Johnson.
“Allen Johnson has a championship record in the 110 hurdles second to none. From an Olympic title to World Championships to an impressive string of United States Championships, he has done it all,” said Weaver. “Our crowds have always loved the hurdle races, and now they’ll get to see the fastest American in history go over the sticks on our track. Allen brings all sorts of gold to the GOLD ZONE.”
An Olympic Champion, World Championship medallist, US champion and NCAA champion, Hysong has seen the pinnacle of vaulting at all levels. He was the first American since 1968 to win an Olympic title in the pole vault. He followed his Olympic success with a bronze medal performance at the 2001 World Outdoor Championships. Hysong was also ranked no. 1 in the world by Track and Field News.
“The fans are going to see something special in the Men’s Invitational Vault during the GOLD ZONE. Nick is a phenomenal athlete and brings a contagious energy to a competition,” said Weaver. “The pole vault is a favorite event of Kansas fans, so we are bringing on one of the best in history to toss himself 19-plus feet in the air. I expect Nick to have a great battle with Tye Harvey at our meet considering those two were fifth and fourth at the Olympic Trials last summer.”
Miles-Clark has been on an amazing five Olympic teams for the United States. She has won one silver and two gold medals in the 4×400-meter relay at the Olympic Games. She has also collected five golds in World Championship competition as part of an overall collection of nine World Championship medals. Miles-Clark has also won a total of nine US Championships, four times in the 400-meter dash and five times in the 800-meter run.
“Jearl is one of the most impressive female athletes our sport has ever seen. The field in the Women’s Invitational 400-meter is deep, but it would be foolish to ever bet against Jearl Miles-Clark,” said Weaver. “In the 400-meters, 800-meters or the relays, she certainly knows how to get across the finish line first. She will fittingly be a big draw for the first year of the GOLD ZONE since she’s had a lot of experience collecting gold medals.”
The 78th Kansas Relays will run from April 21 – 23; the GOLD ZONE is Saturday, April 23 from 2:00 – 5:00 pm. For more information on the Kansas Relays, a complete GOLD ZONE schedule, and ticket information, visit http://kuathletics.collegesports.com/sports/c-relay/