GOLDZONE II Main Events Stacked for 2006 Kansas Relays
March 29, 2006
LAWRENCE, Kan. –
Kansas Relays meet director Tim Weaver announced the main events for the Kansas Relays GOLDZONE II featuring several Olympic champions matching up for head-to-head competition.
The men’s main event will showcase Maurice Greene and Justin Gatlin, both Olympic champions in the 100-meter dash, facing off as anchors of their respective 4×100-meter relay teams. The women’s featured race has World Champions Allyson Felix and Muna Lee and World silver medalist Rachelle Smith squaring off in the 100-meter dash. Felix was also the Olympic Silver Medalist at the 2004 Olympic Games.
“A great track meet draws a great crowd, and to draw a great crowd a meet must assure people that they will be entertained,” said Weaver. “The GOLDZONE is nothing more than a vehicle for entertainment — an opportunity to tell a story. Last year’s story was the presence of track and field’s household names in Lawrence. This year is all about matchups — not just in the two events we announced today, but carried throughout GOLDZONE II. Each of our featured events will have at least two champions competing for the Relays crown — and the attention of our fans.”
The theme of “champion vs. champion” will be seen throughout the course of the three-hour GOLDZONE II. Greene’s team, HSI, will also feature World Champions John Capel and Leonard Scott. Joining Gatlin as part of Sprint Capitol will be Olympic Champion Shawn Crawford and Dwight Thomas, ranked No. 4 in the world in the 100-meter dash. The men’s main event will also feature Hobson’s Choice, a team from Kansas City directed by Greene’s first coach, Al Hobson. It includes Mark Jelks, Mardy Scales and Rae Edwards — all members of the US 4×100-meter relay pool at the 2005 World Championships. World Junior Champion Ashley Owens will join the other gold medalists in the Women’s Invitational 100-meter dash.
Participants in the 12 other invitational events will be released over the next two weeks.
The 2006 Kansas Relays will be held April 20-22 in Lawrence, Kan., at Memorial Stadium. Last year’s inaugural GOLDZONE brought over 24,000 people to the meet, the second-highest attendance in the history of the event. GOLDZONE II is scheduled for Saturday, April 22, from 2-5 p.m. For more information, visit http://kuathletics.collegesports.com/sports/c-relay/.
GOLDZONE II Press Conference Quotes
Meet Director Tim Weaver
“We are building off of last year’s success of the meet in general, but specifically the birth of the GOLDZONE concept. One of the markers of a great track and field meet is a great crowd. We had a great crowd last year. What makes a great crowd come out is the guarantee that they are going to be entertained. To be entertained people have to know that they are going to be told a story. That is the foundation of entertainment. Last year the story was the household names and stars of track and field in Lawrence, Kan., at Memorial Stadium. Now as we seek to not have the second highest attendance of all-time, but to break the all-time attendance record, we have to say, `How do we up the story, how do we make it more interesting?’ After talking with Coach Redwine and the administration, the idea of matchups really became clear. It’s not just about the folks who are going to be here but what are they going to be doing while they are here.”
On the main events:
“We have sought to put together the best champion vs. champion action and have these folks really tell a story with their rivalries. We are very happy to announce that the main event on both the men’s and women’s side features some fantastic athletes and names that are known to people. On the women’s side the main event will be the 100-meter dash. The key performers in that race will be Allyson Felix, Muna Lee, Ashley Owens and Rachelle Smith. The four ladies in the 100-meter dash are going to absolutely tear it up. The main event on the men’s side will be the 4×100-meter relay. It is a tremendous clash of champions featuring Maurice Greene anchoring his HSI relay team. In the lane next to him will be Justin Gatlin. As impressive as those two guys are, their teams are equally impressive. On Maurice’s HSI team is John Capel and Leonard Scott, both world champions. On Justin’s Sprint Capitol squad is Shawn Crawford, Rodney Martin and Dwight Thomas. Those two teams will be fantastic. Not to be overshadowed is a team called Hobson’s Choice coached by Al Hobson, who was Maurice Greene’s first coach while he was here in Kansas City. Three members of his club — Mark Jelks, Rae Edwards and also Mardy Scales — were on the world championship team for the 4 X 100-meter relay. Those three teams are going to mix it up in the 4 x100-meter relay. The pattern for each invitational event is as many championship matchups as we can get to get the crowds there and entertain them once they are there.”
On Maurice Greene:
“He said before that he loves coming back home. “Maurice” and “entertainment” are two key words that go hand-in-hand whether it’s on the track with how he interacts with fans. I don’t know if anyone does a better job of going up in the stands and signing autographs or hanging out. He loves coming back home. It’s good to know that Lawrence, Kan., has a place in Maurice’s heart.”
On the effects of last year’s GOLDZONE on this year’s:
“Since last year the phone has been ringing off the hook with different agents, coaches and athletes. They want the competition to open up their seasons. They want to be treated like professionals. Lawrence is getting a great reputation as a very athlete-friendly place to come. The reception that they are going to get in the stadium means a lot. These people go over to Europe and work in front of 30,000 to 40,000 people. They don’t get that treatment often in the United States, and to have 24,000 people out here last year meant a lot to them. It’s not just that — we hear as much about how they get treated in the community as we do about anything else. The job of recruiting athletes here has certainly become a lot easier. Now the game changes to who can we get in a lane and who can’t we get in a lane. We still want to keep this a crisp three-hour meet.”
On improvements over last year’s GOLDZONE:
“We have actually sat down and scripted the GOLDZONE minute-by-minute. The whole production now is just like a live TV show. When the music comes on or when the video board is going to do its skits is the biggest thing that I want to re-work and improve on. We want to get the interaction with the fans. Whether it’s an autograph tent or someone informally getting up in the crowd, we want to make the experience as fun as possible. We want people to walk away having had a better time than they thought they would coming in.”
On recruiting athletes to compete:
“Word of mouth is the best advertising we can have. These athletes travel to Europe and are in the same hotels and taxi cabs for two months every summer, and they are talking about where they had it good and where they didn’t. Guys like Maurice have been talking up what we have going here for years. If you are going to have someone out there as an ambassador for you, a former world record holder and a two-time Olympic Champion is not a bad guy to have on your team.”
Head Coach Stanley Redwine
On Maurice Greene:
“I think the European Circuit is a great track meet circuit. You have superstars in every event for the fans to see. I think that this meet will give you that feeling. When you talk about Maurice going into the stands and making sure that he talks to the crowd, there is no better feeling for the fans than when a superstar comes up and sits next to them and take a picture. Maurice does an excellent job of that. He is a great guy.”
On bringing athletes to the Kansas Relays:
“Track and Field News is a publication that has all the best track stories and top events for the athletes to see. They had a huge article on the Kansas Relays last year. It definitely helps when the athletes are looking through and see a big picture of the University of Kansas. They think `I want to go there,’ and it makes it a little bit easier for us to get athletes.”
On the timing of the Kansas Relays:
“There is a relay circuit that the Kansas Relays is huge in. Athletes go to the Texas Relays prior to the Kansas Relays, and then they will go to either Drake or Penn before they go over to Europe. It is a perfect time to get the athletes in. They want more competition, and we are definitely excited to get the athletes in to compete against each other to see where they are going to end up at the end of the year.”
On the support for the Kansas Relays:
“I think our administration made a huge decision to make this a successful event. They stepped up last year and said that if we are going to do it we are going to do it well. This year is just a continuation of the support that we have been getting.”