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DRAKE RELAYS: Down goes Lolo

Des Moines’ own Olympian pulls hamstring running hurdles

April 26, 2009

DES MOINES - Even though she knew she wasn't right, Lolo Jones insisted on running in her hometown meet.

It turned out to be a big mistake.

Jones pulled up lame and clipped the third-to-last hurdle on a cold and rainy Saturday at the 100th Drake Relays, failing to finish the 100 hurdles. Jones, a Des Moines native and crowd favorite who had won four straight 100 hurdles races at Drake, said she irritated a bursa sac injury on her right leg that popped up about 10 days ago.

Article Photos

Des Moines native and 2008 Olympian Lolo Jones grabs at her hamstring while being carted off the track Saturday at Drake Stadium. Jones sustained an injury while running the 100-meter hurdles in her return to the Drake Relays.

Jones' performance brought back shades of last summer's Beijing Olympics, when she famously hit the second-to-last hurdle on her way down and failed to medal.

Jones insisted that wasn't the case, though, because the injury prevented her from even clearing the hurdle.

Tiffany Ofili of Michigan won the race in 12.82, the third-fastest time in the world this season.

"All of a sudden, when I tried to go to that next gear, it felt like a tennis ball was moving down my hamstring and then I felt a pop," Jones said. "I don't think it's as bad as we thought it was at first. So that's good news, but it's not good because I still couldn't win today."

Jones will be X-rayed today, and she said has "no clue" how long she'll be out. But she is cautiously optimistic that the injury, which she called a "slight tear," won't keep her out of action too long.

Jones, who attended high school just down the road from Drake Stadium, acknowledged she rushed back because she has such a personal connection to the Relays.

Jones was in tremendous pain warming up, but once she heard the crowd cheering her name, her adrenaline took over and she decided to go for it.

"If it would have been any other race - raining, cold - I would have pulled out. But due to the simple fact that I grew up a couple blocks away from here, you know, have so many fond memories on this track, that it was a dire, just high status to run at this meet regardless," Jones said.

The poor conditions that gave Jones pause on Saturday morning were a huge change from the spectacular weather that blessed the first two full days of the meet.

The temperatures plunged a whopping 36 degrees in just 18 hours - from a high of 85 on Friday afternoon - and a persistent drizzle kept the track soggy and fans huddled in the tiny concourses of Drake Stadium trying to stay dry.

Still, the Saturday session sold out for the 44th year in a row, drawing a wet but enthusiastic crowd of 14,504. But the conditions kept the record books mostly safe.

Alan Webb took the mile for the second time in as many tries, though his 4:00.61 effort didn't come close to his meet-record time of 3:51.71 in 2007.

Webb, coming off a disappointing 2008 when he failed to qualify for Beijing, barely held off Peter Vanderwesthuizen of South Africa and Mexico's Pablo Solares. Both finished within 3 tenths of a second of Webb, who rubbed his arms at the finish line to indicate how cold he was.

"It was cold, chilly, windy. Just ended up being one of those days when competing was the goal, just trying to win the race," Webb said.

Three-time Olympic gold medalist Jeremy Wariner took the 400 dash in 45.06, the second-fastest outdoor time in the world this year. But hurdler Ryan Wilson was the one who set a meet record, winning the 110 hurdles in 13.21 to breaking the mark of 13.39 set by Anwar Moore in 2005.

Liz Wanless beat out a field featuring the top five women's shot putters in the U.S., breaking the meet record and setting the new American outdoor standard for 2009 with a winning put of 60 feet, 1 inch.

Jill Camarena, the American leader this year at 61 feet, finished third (57-3 1/2) and Michelle Carter, the 2008 Olympic Trials champion, fouled on her last two puts and finished fourth.

The men's shot put also produced a surprising winner, as Dan Taylor outlasted a field that included six-time Drake champion Christian Cantwell with a put of 70-1 3/4.

Chaunte Howard took the women's high jump with a winning leap of 6-1 1/4, beating four-time meet champion Amy Acuff.

Georgia's Justin Gayman became the first university runner to win three straight 400 hurdles since 1979, winning in 50.71. Minnesota's women's 4x1,600 team won for the third time in four years, led by anchor Heather Dorniden's 4:46.10 split.



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