Hourd, `Birds Ready for 97th Annual Drake Relays
Andrea Mosher will compete in the 400-meter hurdles at the 2006 Drake Relays.
Andrea Mosher will compete in the 400-meter hurdles at the 2006 Drake Relays.

April 25, 2006

NORMAL, Ill. - Illinois State coach Elvis Forde and his track and field squad will travel to Des Moines, Iowa this weekend to compete in the 97th Annual Drake Relays. As usual, the heptathlon will be the first contended event at the relays and will feature Redbird Brittney Hourd.

Hourd's progress over the season leads Forde to believe that she is ready to compete at a high level such as the Drake Relays.

"Brittney's ready," said Forde. "She has progressed very well over the course of the season and I'm excited about what she's capable of doing this weekend. I would like to see her get over 5,300 points which I think she's ready to do and it will be a good way to get her prepared for the conference championships. If she can really focus on the high jump, javelin and shot put I think we can get her over that mark. "

In only her second season competing in the heptathlon, Hourd has already qualified for the NCAA Mideast Regional with 5,032 points at Western Illinois on April 15. Tomorrow Hourd will attempt to improve on that point total with the heptathlon beginning at noon and wrapping up Thursday, April 27.

Lauren Maul, who placed third in the heptathlon in last year's Drake Relays, will forgo the event only to compete in the high jump. Maul has already qualified for the Mideast Regional in both events, but has been nursing an injury.

"Right now it's more important to have Lauren for the conference championships than to have her compete in the multi-events at Drake," said Forde. "It's unfortunate that she was invited to compete in the event, but we need to do what we can to nurse her back to health and have her ready to go in two weeks."

Because the Drake Relays is an invitation-only meet, a majority of the Redbird squad will not compete this weekend. However, the Redbird men's squad will see Bronco Meeks, defending 2005 Drake Relays 800-meter champion, in the event again this year. In other individual events, Brian Krantz will compete in the hammer throw, while Mark Jackson is entered in the shot put. Both Derek Sargent and Darren Price will compete in the javelin. The men will also run their 4x100, 4x400, 4x800 and Distance Medley Relay teams.

On the women's side, other competitors besides Hourd and Maul include, Lian Lucas and Devon Williams in the 100-meters, Andrea Mosher in the 400-meter hurdles and Laura Kennedy in the 3,000 and 5,000-meters. The women's squad will team up to compete in the 4x100, 4x200, 4x400, the Distance Medley Relay, as well as the Sprint Medley.

Based on the team's confidence the athletes are up for the task at hand.

"The athletes are up for the challenge," added Forde. "They're focused and I think our confidence is riding high. With two weeks before conference I think they really want to put up a good showing. This will be a very good test for us to see where we are mentally. If we can go out and execute as well as we have this year I think we'll be happy with the results."

Fans wanting to watch the Drake Relays via B2, a premier provider of reliable and secure international television and video broadcasting systems, will need a high speed internet connection and Windows Media Player 9 or higher. Each session will cost $10 and can be accessed through the meet website, www.drakerelays.com, the Drake University broadcasting site, www.drakebroadcasting.com or by going to http://www.b2livetv.com/hockey/MISC/DrakeEvent/forward.htm. More than 12 hours of coverage from the Drake Relays will be broadcast Friday, April 28, beginning at 5pm CDT and then Saturday, April 29, starting at 10:30AM, CDT.