'Batman' Shines Again as 85th Kansas Relays Come to an End

April 21, 2012

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042112aag_537_7710126.jpegLAWRENCE, Kan. – A lightning-fast lap in the 400-meter hurdles by Bershawn `Batman’ Jackson and a dual-event winning performance by Shawnee Mission West’s Alli Cash earned the two Outstanding Performer of the Meet honors as the 85th addition of the Kansas Relays came to a close Saturday.

In front of just over 14,500 fans inside Memorial Stadium, Jackson reprised his role as one of the top athletes to ever compete at the Kansas Relays. Coming into the day the Miami, Fla. native had won five Kansas Relays titles since 2003 and had broken the meet record in the event on three previous occasions. Jackson made his way onto the track Saturday boasting the world’s fastest 400-meter hurdle time in 2012. He not only improved on his world-leading mark, but did it with style, gliding over the each hurdle around the 440-yard track with ease and speeding across the finish line in another meet-record time of 48.20.

Jackson’s finish marked his seventh Kansas Relays victory and improved upon his 2012 world-leading time by almost .3 seconds. Following the meet, Jackson was named the Outstanding Male Performer of the Meet for the second time in his incredible Relays career.

For the first time in two years, a high schooler was named the Outstanding Female Performer as Shawnee Mission West’s Alli Cash earned the distinction after her wins in both the 800-meter and 1,600-meter races. The junior first claimed the girl’s 800-meter title in a time of 2:13.99 Friday afternoon. Cash then returned to Hershberger Track Saturday and ran into the Kansas Relay and Kansas High School record books, finishing the four-lap event in 4:50.71. The time topped the previous meet record by just under a second and is the fourth-fastest 1,600 meters ever run by a high schooler in the state of Kansas.

Perhaps the most impressive female performance of the day came in the women’s invitational 400 meters, with Saucony’s DeeDee Trotter edging Kansas’ national champion Diamond Dixon to win Gold. Trotter roared around the track and finished in a meet-record time of 50.94, beating KU sophomore Dixon’s 51.80, the fastest time in the NCAA in 2012. Trotter’s time is the best in the world this year and gave the former Olympic Gold medalist her first Kansas Relays victory.

Dixon wouldn’t be denied the winner’s podium, however, as she joined Jayhawk teammates Denesha Morris, Paris Daniels and Shayla Wilson in running the fastest 4×400-meter relay in Memorial Stadium and Kansas Relays history. The four passed the baton around in 3:31.87, topping the previous meet and stadium record by almost five seconds and giving Kansas its second-consecutive women’s 1,600-meter relay title. The team’s time is an outdoor school record and moved them into sixth in the nation this season.

Several of the nation’s top milers were in action later in the day in the Glenn Cunningham mile run. The top three finishers marked just the second sub-four minute mile times in the past 12 years of the Relays. Peter van der Westhuizen made the four-lap trek in 3:56.90 for the win, flirting with Jim Ryun’s 46-year-old meet record of 3:54.7. The time is also the fastest in the past 30-plus years, when Ryun ran 3:55.8 in 1971.

Numerous other elite athletes took part in the Saturday festivities, several of which running to some of the top times in the world this year. Early in the day Lashaunte’a Moore claimed the women’s invitational 100-meter dash in a blazing time of 11.14. The time put Moore at No. 2 in the world in the all-important Olympic year.

Two special events got perhaps the loudest response from the crowd Saturday afternoon as a group of Paralympians raced in open 100-meter and 200-meter action. Shaquille Vance won the 100-meter dash an amazing 13.89, while James Ortiz claimed gold in the 200 meters in 26.33. Both athletes are single-leg amputees and are working towards trips to their first Paralympic Games later this summer in London.

It was a stacked field in the men’s discus as two of the world’s top throwers went head-to-head on McCook Olympic field. World No. 6 Jason Morgan won the event, uncorking a throw of 61.65 meters (202-03 ft.) on his fourth attempt to take the title. The nation’s second-ranked American, Jason Young, placed third with a mark 59.05 meters.

Other highlights from the final day of action came from Nike’s Doc Patton who spoiled Ivory Williams’ bid for a third-straight Relays invitational 100-meter title. Patton outgunned Travis Padgett by just .02 seconds, crossing the finish line in 10.29 for the win.

Both the high school girl’s and boy’s 4×100-meter relay Sunflower Showdown records fell as Bishop Miege’s girls passed the baton around in 49.98. The Topeka High team won the boy’s section, finishing in 42.98.

In all, the 2012 Kansas Relays saw seven meet records fall, eight if you include the world-record breaking serving of nachos that weighed in at 4,689 pounds. Over 5,000 professional, collegiate and high school track and field athletes saw four days of intense and entertaining competition that will surely make this year’s Kansas Relays one to remember.

The 2013 Kansas Relays are slated to take place April 17-20 of next year.