26,000 watch records break at Kansas Relays
Beautiful weather, shattered records and impressive performances highlighted the final day of the 79th Kansas Relays April 22 at Memorial Stadium. In the main attraction of the GOLDZONE II, the 4x100 meter invitational, team Sprint Capitol—anchored by 100-meter Olympic Champion Justin Gatlin—captured the title. Gatlin partnered with Dwight Thomas, Rodney Martin and Shawn Crawford to win the race in a time of 38.16.
In all, 11 records fell, including the men's 400-meter relay. Sprint Capitol's time of 38.16 ousted the old record of 38.45, previously held by Allen Johnson, Ato Boldon, Dwight Howard and Maurice Greene. Greene, who defended his record in Saturday’s race, easily picked off two runners on the anchor leg, but could not overcome Gatlin's head start down the stretch. Greene's HSI squad of Kaaron Conwright, Allen Johnson and Leonard Scott finished in 39.02.
More than 26,000 fans cheered for both teams on Saturday. The second-largest crowd surpassed 2005's mark of 24,619. Only the 1972 crowd of 32,000 was larger.
Although attendance fell short of the 30,000 goal, Tim Weaver, g’97, meet director, was pleased with the turnout. "Goal setting is important for an athlete, and goal setting is equally as important for an event,” said Weaver. “I don't feel bad in the least for setting that ambitious goal of 30,000, nor would I be reticent to do so again in the future.” His secondary goal was to prove that last year wasn't a fluke and that the Kansas Relays can consistently draw 25,000 plus. "The fact that we did that in 2006 only strengthens the Relays team’s resolve to surpass 30,000 in 2007."