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The Weekend’s Best Matchups: Penn and Drake Relays

The Weekend’s Best Matchups: Penn and Drake Relays
Jesse Squire

This year’s Penn and Drake Relays are going to be epic meets. They always are. And in an unusual twist, they’ll both get live TV coverage on Saturday afternoon.

Penn will be on from 12:30 to 3:00 (Eastern time), then Drake will be on from 3:00 to 5:00. Both are on NBC Sports Network. There will also be a (free) live webcast from Drake on Friday night at USATF.tv.

The remainder of these massive meets can be seen via webcast (for a fee, of course). You can get the schedules and links at our What2Watch page.

Drake Relays: Home page | Des Moines Register coverage

Penn Relays: Home page | Event-by -event preview

On to the matchups — and there are a lot of them!

Friday

LaQue Moen-Davis vs Marshay Ryan
College Women’s Triple Jump, Penn Relays
Friday, 10:00am ET

Moen-Davis (Texas A&M) was runner-up at the NCAA indoor championships, and Ryan (Auburn) was right behind her in third.

Texas A&M vs Oregon
College Women’s 4×100 Relay Championship of America, Penn Relays
Friday, 12:50pm ET

These are the top two relay teams in the nation. Texas A&M has won this race five times in a row at Penn.

Villanova vs Oregon, round 1
College Women’s 4×1500 Relay Championship of America, Penn Relays
Friday, 1:10pm ET

Oregon and Villanova have among the deepest middle-distance squads in the nation, and they’re the favorites in several different relays this weekend. This was a three-way battle last year between the Ducks, the Wildcats and Michigan, but the Wolverines are not entered this year.

Penn State vs Oregon
College Men’s Distance Medley Championship of America, Penn Relays
Friday, 2:25pm ET

This is the “signature event” of the Penn Relays and usually a great fight. This field is so deep that the NCAA indoor champions in the event, Stanford, don’t even rate as one of the two favorites. Penn State ran the #2 indoor time in collegiate history in early February, and Oregon is just loaded with middle-distance talent–and even brings a star quarter-miler in Mike Berry.

Kentucky vs U Tech
College Women’s Sprint Medley Championship of America, Penn Relays
Friday, 6:05pm ET

Walt Murphy’s preview calls the Wildcats the co-favorites with Jamaica’s University of Technology.

Mississippi State vs Penn State
College Men’s Sprint Medley Championship of America, Penn Relays
Friday, 6:30pm ET

Penn State has good talent in the 200 and 400 legs and has 1:47-man Brannon Kidder to anchor. Mississippi State has 1:45-man Brandon McBride on the anchor and that might be all they need.

Yarisley Silva vs Jenn Suhr
Moscow World Championships Rematch Women’s Pole Vault, Drake Relays
Friday, 5:45pm local time (6:45pm ET)

Silva won Olympic silver two years ago behinf Suhr’s gold, then beat Suhr at both the mall and stadium vaults at Drake. Suhr withdrew from Wednesday’s mall vault, so there is some question as to whether she will compete here.

Erik Kynard vs Derek Drouin
Men’s Moscow World Championship Rematch High Jump, Drake Relays
Friday, 6:00pm local time (7:00pm ET)

Kynard beat Drouin on the countback in the bizarre “High Jump in the Hy-Vee” competition, and they are by far the two best jumpers in the western hemisphere.

DRAKE RELAYS FREE LIVE WEBCAST BEGINS AT 7:30 ET

David Oliver vs Ryan Wilson
Moscow World Championships Rematch Men’s 110m Hurdles, Drake Relays
Friday, 6:43pm local time (7:43pm ET)

These two were the World Championships gold and silver medalists last year, capping off a successful comeback year for Oliver and a breakthrough season for journeyman Wilson.

LaShawn Merritt vs Kirani James
Moscow World Championships Rematch Men’s 400 meters, Drake Relays
Friday, 7:35pm local time (8:35pm ET)

While James ran an uncharacteristically poor 7th at the Worlds last year, he’s still the only man who can realistically threaten world champ Merritt, in this race or any other.

USA vs the record books, round 1
Women’s special shuttle hurdle relay, Drake Relays
Friday, 7:00pm local time (8:00pm ET)

This shuttle hurdle relay lines up three teams from the USA and one from Jamaica and the target is the world record. The teams are more or less equally balanced and crowd favorite Lolo Jones will run on one of the teams. The time to beat is 50.78, set at the Florida Relays last year.

Michael Tinsley vs Johnny Dutch
Moscow World Championships Rematch Men’s 400m Hurdles, Drake Relays
Friday, 8:00pm local time (9:00pm ET)

Tinsley and Dutch were rated #2 and #4 in the world last year. Bershawn Jackson and Felix Sanchez are threats but getting long in the tooth.

Helen Obiri vs Brenda Martinez
Moscow World Championships Rematch Women’s Pole Vault, Drake Relays
Friday, 8:25pm local time (9:25pm ET)

Obiri won bronze at the Worlds last year, and among the two who beat her was last year’s Drake champion, Jenny Simpson. Simpson is not here this year but Brenda Martinez is. She won Worlds silver in the 800 but is nearly as good at the 1500.

Saturday

PENN RELAYS LIVE TV BEGINS AT 12:30 PM ET

USA vs Jamaica, round 1
USA vs The World Women’s Sprint Medley, Penn Relays
Saturday, 12:35pm

The USA vs The World competitions aren’t as deep this year as they have been in the past, but the Jamaicans are still running and that’s who will supply most of the competition for the USA.

USA vs Jamaica, round 2
USA vs The World Men’s 4×100 Relay, Penn Relays
Saturday, 1:05pm

As usual, who is favored to win this event is highly dependent on which stars make themselves available. Regardless, these are the two best teams in the race.

USA vs Jamaica, round 3
USA vs The World Women’s 4×100 Relay, Penn Relays
Saturday, 1:15pm

Same as above.

Oregon vs Villanova, round 2
College Men’s 4xMile Relay Championship of America, Penn Relays
Saturday, 12:55pm ET

Oregon and Villanova are, on paper at least, the favorites. The Ducks might run either Mac Fleet or Edward Cheserek on the anchor, but either one is a fearsome competitor. My dark-horse pick is New Mexico.

Texas A&M vs U Tech
College Men’s 4×100 Relay Championship of America, Penn Relays
Saturday, 1:25pm ET

The University of Technology became the first-ever Jamaican champion in this event last year, and they bring enough speed to seriously challenge NCAA leader Texas A&M.

Maalik Reynolds vs Montez Blair
College Men’s High Jump Championship, Penn Relays
Saturday, 1:30pm ET

Reynolds competes for the home team, Penn, and Blair for Cornell. These are two of the better high jumpers in the NCAA and it’s a Penn throwback to see the favorites both come from the Ivy League.

USA vs Ireland
USA vs The World Men’s Distance Medley, Penn Relays
Saturday, 2:05pm

With no Kenyan team in the race, the USA are the favorites but this can be an unpredictable event. Ireland might run John Coghlan on the anchor, the son of Villanova’s great Eamonn Coghlan.

Texas vs Texas A&M
College Women’s 4×200 Relay Championship of America, Penn Relays
Saturday, 2:25pm ET

The Longhorns beat Texas A&M in this event at the Texas Relays and the Aggies want to even the score.

USA vs Jamaica, round 4
USA vs The World Women’s 4×400 Relay, Penn Relays
Saturday, 2:35pm

The USA has won this event twelve times in a row. Jamaica is the presumed top competitor but Nigeria could be a factor as well.

Texas A&M vs St. Augustine’s
College Men’s 4×200 Relay Championship of America, Penn Relays
Saturday, 2:45pm ET

The Aggies are a heavy favorite here. D-II St. Augustine looks like the team with the best chance to knock them off.

Brigetta Barrett vs Inika McPherson
Moscow World Championships Rematch, Drake Relays
Saturday, 1:45pm local time (2:45pm ET)

McPherson upset Worlds silver medalist Brigetta Barrett at the bizarre “High jump in the Hy-Vee”.

USA vs Bahamas
USA vs The World Men’s 4×400 Relay, Penn Relays
Saturday, 2:52pm

The Bahamas has never won this event at Penn, but they did beat the USA at the 2012 Olympics.

Chanelle Price vs Milers
Olympic Development Women’s Mile, Penn Relays
Saturday, 3:00pm ET

Price was a surprise winner in the 800 meters at the World Indoor Championships. Here she steps up to compete against a decent field of B-level pros.

DRAKE RELAYS LIVE TV BEGINS AT 3:00 ET

Nick Willis vs Nate Brannen
Special Men’s Mile, Drake Relays
Saturday, 2:02pm local time (3:02pm ET)

Willis won the B.A.A. mile last week and Brannen is probably his toughest competition. They were teammates at Michigan eleven years ago.

Dalilah Muhammad vs Lashinda Demus
Moscow World Championships Rematch Women’s 400m Hurdles, Drake Relays
Saturday, 2:10pm local time (3:10pm ET)

Muhammad won Worlds silver last year, Demus won bronze. Georganne Moline took fourth at the Worlds right behind them.

Kendra Harrison vs Jasmin Stowers vs Danielle Williams
College Women’s 100m Hurdles Championship, Penn Relays
Saturday, 3:15pm ET

Harrison (Kentucky) and Stowers (LSU) are among the best in the NCAA, but D-II champion Williams (Johnson C. Smith) is every bit their equal.

Renaud Lavillenie vs records
Men’s Moscow World Championship Rematch Pole Vault, Drake Relays
Saturday, 2:15pm local time (3:15pm ET)

Lavillenie broke Sergey Bubka’s long-standing indoor world record this year, then knocked himself out of the rest of the indoor season by landing awkwardly and gashing his ankle. Wednesday’s mall pole vault competition was his first meet back. Germany’ Bjorn Otto was originally slated to compete but has withdrawn, leaving the record book as Lavillenie’s main competition. The meet and stadium records are 5.81 meters (19′ ¾”)

Olivia Ekpone vs Elaine Thompson
College Women’s 100 meter Championship, Penn Relays
Saturday, 3:35pm ET

Ekpone (Texas A&M) is the defending Penn champion, Thompson (U Tech) is the newly minted Jamaican collegiate champion.

Shavez Hart vs Cameron Burrell
College Men’s 100 meter Championship, Penn Relays
Saturday, 3:45pm ET
Burrell and Hart are picked for 5th and 6th at the NCAA Championships in the latest Track & Field News formcharts.

Brianna Rollins vs Dawn Harper-Nelson
Moscow World Championships Rematch Women’s 100m Hurdles, Drake Relays
Saturday, 2:36pm local time (3:36pm ET)

Rollins rolled through a long undefeated season last year and capped it off with a Worlds gold medal. Harper-Nelson won silver at the 2012 Olympics. Both are running their season openers here.

USA vs the record books, round 2
Men’s Special Shuttle Hurdle Relay, Drake Relays
Saturday, 2:52pm local time (3:52pm ET)

Four teams are lined up in this special pro shuttle hurdle event, three from the USA and one from Jamaica. Talent has been balanced across the teams in order to keep it competitive. The time to beat is 53.36.

Russell Brown vs Robby Andrews
Olympic Development Men’s Mile, Penn Relays
Saturday, 3:55pm ET

Brown’s peak year as a miler was 2011, when he won the New Balance Indoor Grand Prix and broke the Mt. SAC stadium record. Half-miler Andrews is stepping up in distance here. The New Jersey-New York Track Club is entering eight athletes in this event.

Oregon vs Villanova, round 3
College Women’s 4×800 Relay Championship of America, Penn Relays
Saturday, 4:10pm ET

Villanova won this over Oregon last year in a thrilling duel, one of the greatest college distance relays ever run.

Penn State vs Villanova
College Men’s 4×800 Relay Championship of America, Penn Relays
Saturday, 4:40pm ET

Nothing could be better than a classic race between two Pennsylvania teams at the Penn Relays. Georgia Tech, the Florida Relays champions, could act as spoilers.

Texas vs Oregon
College Women’s 4×400 Relay Championship of America, Penn Relays
Saturday, 5:50pm ET

Last month’s epic 4×400 duel between Texas and Oregon at the NCAA indoor championships may have been the greatest collegiate relay race of all time. This rematch should be good too. Both hold Penn records in the event, Oregon for fastest time (3:26.73) and Texas for most wins (10).

Texas A&M vs LSU
College Men’s 4×400 Relay Championship of America, Penn Relays
Saturday, 6:00pm ET

Texas A&M beat LSU last weekend but not by much, and their anchors, Deon Lendore and Vernon Norwood, are among the best in the NCAA.

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