Hurdle Champions to Face Off at GOLDZONE II
April 5, 2006
LAWRENCE, Kan. –
Kansas Relays Meet Director Tim Weaver announced the featured athletes for the GOLDZONE II Invitational hurdle events. Highlighting the entries are 2005 world champions Bershawn Jackson (400-meter hurdles) of the United States and Ladji Doucouré (110-meter hurdles) of France.
“All three invitational hurdle races bring something special to GOLDZONE II,” said Weaver. “When athletes sprint at full speed over barriers as high as a backyard fence, anything can happen. Yes, we have world champions and heavy favorites in these races but I would remind the fans that the hurdles offer the best chance for upsets and unpredictable action.”
The field in the men’s Invitational 400-meter hurdles is perhaps the strongest in the history of the event. Bershawn Jackson, known in track circles as “Batman,” is coming off a solid 2005 season capped with a victory in the 400-meter hurdles in Helsinki at the World Championships. Jackson set the Kansas Relays record last year and has a personal best time of 47.30. Kenneth Ferguson, a world junior champion and twice the U.S. junior champion, will offer stiff competition for Jackson. Dwight Ruff will make his first trip to Kansas for the event; he has four Penn Relays titles to his name. Jackson, Ferguson and Ruff took the top three spots at the 2002 U.S. Junior Championships. Jamaican Olympian Ian Weakly has run 48.55 in the event and is a veteran of two world championships. Kansas sophomore Julius Jiles was voted the high school boy’s Most Outstanding Athlete of the meet in 2004 and has continued his success while wearing the Jayhawk uniform.
The women’s Invitational 100-meter hurdles will feature Jenny Adams and Nichole Denby. Adams was a finalist in two outdoor world championships and has run the hurdles in 12.63 seconds. Denby is a former NCAA champion and has finished that race .01 faster. Adams was a 16-time NCAA All-American while Denby set the NCAA Championships record. Adams placed fifth at the 2004 Olympic Trials with Denby close behind in sixth place. Nadine Faustin, who has been on two Olympic and six world championship teams for Haiti, will bring her international experience to the event. Also in the Invitational section is Lela Nelson, the NCAA heptathlon and U.S. pentathlon champion.
Adding more international flair to GOLDZONE II will be Frenchman Ladji Doucouré, the 2005 world champion in the 110-meter hurdles. He defeated Olympic champions Allen Johnson and Xiang Liu to capture his first world title last year. At GOLDZONE II, Doucouré will again face Americans Dominique Arnold and Joel Brown – both finishers in that same championship race. Arnold is a veteran who won the NCAA title in 1999 and had his best year as a pro in 2005 by placing fourth at the World Championships. Arnold is off to a great start in 2006 with a silver medal at the U.S. Indoor Championships and a bronze medal finish in Moscow at the World Indoor Championships. Brown finished sixth in the outdoor championship final and will again challenge both medalists in Lawrence. A talented group will join these men over the high hurdles. Dexter Faulk of Kansas City won two Junior College Championships and David Payne has a bronze medal from the U.S. Championships in his collection. Jayhawk senior Aaron Thompon set the school record in the 60-meter hurdles this winter and represented Kansas at the 2006 NCAA Indoor Championships.
Additional featured athletes for these and other invitational events will be released in the coming days.
The 79th Kansas Relays will run from April 20 – 22; the GOLDZONE II is Saturday, April 22 from 2:00 – 5:00 pm. For more information on the Kansas Relays, a complete GOLDZONE II schedule, and ticket information, visit http://kuathletics.collegesports.com/sports/c-relay/.