KALAMAZOO, Mich.- Track & Field News recently announced its national relay rankings for the 2007 outdoor season, with Western Michigan owning the top spot in the country in the sprint medley. The Broncos beat out several southern schools from the ‘power-house conferences’ including Arkansas and LSU, as well as Big Ten power Penn State.
“We are trying to get our whole program in the top 20 in the nation,” WMU head coach Kelly Lycan said. “It’s nice to be recognized by the one publication that anyone who follows track & field at all is familiar with, it’s kind of our bible of the sport. For us to have that in Track & Field News really verifies that we are credit worthy.”
The WMU sprint medley quartet of Joy Eloms, Shayna Sangster, Jennifer Sabra and Becky Horn posted their speedy time of 3:48.60 at the prestigious Drake Relays on April 28. The team won the event, a first for a Bronco relay team at the Drake Relays, and established a new school record. The previous record stood at 3:56.70, set during the 2006 season.
“It was real nice to have that run at the Drake Relays, because that is one of the biggest and renowned meets in the nation,” Lycan said. “You get all these big southern schools there and then there is Western Michigan, a smaller northern school turning heads. We had people coming up to us after and being like ‘Wow, that Western Michigan team is pretty good.’”
A total of 21 teams were entered in the sprint medley at the Drake Relays, but the race in the fastest heat would really boil down to be a two-team battle between Western Michigan and Arkansas.
“It was really an exciting race for us, because we didn’t even know until about five minutes before that we were going to get into the fast heat,” Lycan said. “They had us stuck in one of the slower heats and I was lobbying until almost race time to get us in the fast heat. Texas Tech decided to scratch and not run, so they slid us into that spot.”
Eloms started the race off for the Broncos, running a steady first 200-meter leg, and Sangster was able to give WMU a slight advantage in the second 200m. Arkansas managed to make up the ground against Sabra in the 400m portion and even pulled ahead by as much as 20 meters.
The event would come to a race between Horn and the Lady Razorback’s Paige Farrell in the final stretch of 800 meters. Horn, who had just come off an individual win at the relays the day before in the 800m, was able to make her move in the second lap. Regaining the lead for WMU, Horn held off Farrell in the final straightaway for the win. Running a 2:04.7 split, it marked the second day in a row she had run the 800m in under 2:05.
Arkansas took second in the race, posting a time of 3:48.77, while the third place team, Wisconsin, didn’t cross the finish line until 3:56.02.
“I guess we deserved to be in that fast heat,” Lycan said.
“That is where we are trying to put our program. We have gained a lot of notoriety with our 4x400-meter relay team being in the top 20 in the nation four of the last five years and to show that we can do it in some other races is pretty nice.”
The 51st Annual Relay Rankings were published in the October 2007 edition of Track & Field News.
The top 10 sprint medley teams according in 2007 according to Track & Field News:
1. Western Michigan
4. Penn State
7. Roosevelt HS, Md.
8. North Carolina
9. Virginia Tech