DES MOINES, Iowa - On the first night of competition for Augustana at the 2014 Drake Relays, Meritxell Delgado stole the show with a sixth-place finish in the women's 10,000-meter run and a top-10 national time. Paul Yak also clocked a provisional time in the men's 10,000-meter run, finishing 10th overall.
Clocking a 35:38.55, Delgado improved her personal-best by 40 seconds to finish as the top Division II runner in the race. Her time currently places her 10th on the Division II leaderboard, all but sealing her a bid to the NCAA Championships.
"We thought [Delgado] was running well and she has been set up for a big performance like this," head coach Tracy Hellman said of his Barcelona import's performance. "She is a strength runner, a true 10k runner, and she showed it in her performance tonight. She's easily the top time in the conference, proving how impressive her mark was."
Yak already notched a qualifying mark in the 5,000-meter run and added a second with his 10k mark to finish the first night for the Vikings. The junior's 30:17.07 came in 10th overall and second among Division II competitors. A slow start forced the race to run more strategic, hurting Yak's chances of turning in a faster time.
"Paul ran a strong, tactical race that turned out to be a qualifying time and the top in the NSIC," Hellman said. "We see this as a good confidence boost and hopefully he can use his performance tonight as a springboard for conference championships."
The Vikings are off to a strong individual start and will have seven relays run tomorrow as well as Kelsey Kaufmann in the women's high jump. Augustana is hoping for more performances like tonight and their previous experiences at the famous meet.
"The Drake Relays has always been a special meet for our program," Hellman said. "We have always had success her and we want to have more athletes experience this so we brought our biggest contingent since starting to come to this meet. For all of our athletes to see the level of competition on this large of a scale keeps them motivated and brings out their best performances."
Augustana returns to action tomorrow beginning with the men's and women's 4x100-meter relay then the Vikings will look for a pair of titles in their signature distance medley relay for both men's and women's squads.
Courtesy: Augustana Eric Zahn