Amanda Mergaert will compete in the 1500m at the Drake Relays.
April 24, 2012
SALT LAKE CITY- The University of Utah women’s track and field team heads to Des Moines, Iowa for the annual Drake Relays this week. Nine Utah athletes are set to compete at Drake Stadium beginning on Wednesday with the heptathlon at 12 p.m., CST.
“The last two years have fundamentally changed how we look at a national level meet like Drake Relays,” Utah head coach Kyle Kepler said. “Winning an individual event and a relay in back-to-back years will do that. We now have a group that looks forward to national level competitions and the challenge it brings. This is especially important now that we are part of the Pac-12 Conference. Meets like the Drake Relays provide a level of competition that our women need in order to prepare for that new challenge.”
Over the past two seasons, the Utes have experienced great success at the Drake Relays. In 2010, Alyssa Abbott won the first event title in school history with her performance in the 1500m. Last year, Utah’s distance-medley relay team was crowned champion with a school-record performance.
This year the Utes look to continue that success as they get set to compete. Senior Brianna LeRoy will get the action started on Friday in the women’s jumping events. LeRoy will compete in both the high jump and long jump for the Utes. In her final appearance, LeRoy looks to polish off her skills before competing in the Pac-12 Championships next week.
Junior Amanda Mergaert is slated to compete in the 1500m race. Currently, Mergaert ranks 71st in the country and she is determined to improve on that standing and qualify for her fourth career NCAA Championships.
In the 100m hurdles, Angela Kaplar will head the charge as she looks to improve on her season-best time of 13.81 set at the Utah Spring Classic. The 400m hurdles will feature junior Stephanie Jolley. In her first appearance at the Drake Relays, Jolley looks to establish herself among the elite hurdlers in the nation.
“While we aim to win any event we can, it’s really about being in the fire and responding to these opportunities,” Kepler said. “The victories and the top-five finishes in the last two years were really a culmination of the previous five years of competing at Drake. Our kids kept performing better and learning what it took to compete at that level over that period.”
Other Utah athletes set to compete at Drake will be Andrea Chavez, Rosalie Griffin, Ali Eisenbeiss, Lauryn McKay, and Alyssa Johnson. The remaining Utah athletes will compete on Friday at the BYU Robison Invitational in Provo, Utah.