Indiana Relays feature collegiate, high school runners
Nation-leading triple jumper leads men into weekend tournaments
The men's track team is holding the first outdoor meet of the season this weekend with the Indiana Relays, starting at 5 p.m. today at the Robert C. Haugh Track and Field complex and at 10 a.m. Saturday. IU welcomes Indiana State, Central Michigan and University of Southern Illinois Carbondale in its first scored meet of the young season. The meet will also feature athletes from nearly nine high schools and will be IU's first use of the newly-erected lighting apparatus at the track. \nThe two-day meet will showcase the strengths of IU's early season, including Big Ten Athlete of the Week and All-American Aarik Wilson. \n"Aarik's going to take a couple of jumps. We want to make sure and keep him healthy," said IU coach Randy Heisler. "The goal for him is to make the Olympic team."\nWilson, thus far undefeated in 2004, was named Big Ten Athlete of the Week after his nation-leading performance in the triple jump at the Texas Relays, a 16.85 meter personal best, which placed him atop the NCAA list. \nAlso in action will be freshman All-American David Neville, who has already posted NCAA Regional qualifying marks in both the 200-meters and 400-meters. He ranks third nationally outdoors in the 200-meters. \n"We're going to run David in a couple of events," Heisler said. "He's young, and he needs to race."\nA pair of national-caliber juniors will also compete. Rodney Hollis will run the 800-meters, where he ranks fifth nationally with his 1:48.69 performance at the Stanford Invitational two weeks ago. Junior Ryan Ketchum, who currently ranks No. 11 nationally in the shot put, will compete in the throws. \nIU's distance runners look to build speed and strength. Sophomore NCAA indoor mile champ Sean Jefferson will run the 5,000-meters. \n"I usually concentrate on the 1,500, so running the 5K for me is for strength," said Jefferson. "The goal is to get a solid workout in and win the race."\nThe longer distance athletes will conversely use the meet to work on their speed. Senior All-American Chris Powers and sophomore Stephen Haas will race the 1,500-meters along with senior Nathan Purcell. \n"This is my final year, so I want to run hard and fast every time I step on the line," said Powers, who ranks ninth nationally in the 5,000-meters. "That means this weekend I run the 1,500."\nIU will play host to the Indiana High School State Championships later this spring. The meet serves as a good primer to introduce the top high school talent to the newly-lit, top-flight facility.\n"We want to win the meet, and we want to look good doing it," Heisler said. "We've got all the high school kids in town, so it's important to put on a good show."\n-- Contact staff writer Rob DeWitte at \email@example.com.