Morris wins women’s pole vault at Drake Relays

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              Sandi Morris clears the bar during the women's special pole vault at the Drake Relays athletics meet, Friday, April 26, 2019, in Des Moines, Iowa. (AP Photo/Charlie Neibergall)
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DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) — Sandi Morris won the women’s pole vault Friday night at the Drake Relays, her first competition in eight months after offseason surgery on her left ankle.

Morris, the silver medalist at the 2016 Rio Olympics, cleared 15 feet, 7 1/4 inches to join Kellie Suttle (1998-2001) as the only four-time winner in the event at the meet.

Morris went for the meet record, but she finally pulled out when it started to rain shortly after her first try at it nicked the bar.

Former Olympic gold medalist Jenn Suhr was second at 15-3 1/2.

“Surprisingly awesome,” Suhr said when asked how she felt health-wise. “It’s a great way to kick off a season whether I’m coming off an ankle injury or not.”

In the men’s 200 meters, Indian Hills Community College (Iowa) freshman Kenny Bednarek shocked a field full of professionals and past Olympians for the first major win of his young career.

The 20-year-old Bednarek — who is so new to the international track scene that he had to look up his opponents online — crossed in 20.29 seconds, the eighth-best time in the world so far in 2019.

Brandon Carnes was second in 20.62 and meet record-holder Wallace Spearmon was fourth in 20.89.

“They have a lot more (wins) than I do, especially as a (junior college athlete) with limited resources. Knowing the fact that I still won is a confidence booster,” Bednarek said.

WOMEN’S LONG JUMP

American Kendell Williams, who entered the meet ranked eighth in the world, won with a winning jump of 21-8 3/4. It was a season best for Williams, who is training for a heptathlon in Gotzis, Austria, at the end of May. Williams competed in that event at the 2016 Rio Olympics. I’m “definitely trending in the right direction, so hopefully translating that to a heptathlon,” Williams said. Kylie Price was second at 21-5 1/2, and defending USATF outdoor champion Sha’Keela Saunders passed on her final five attempts after fouling on her first.

TIDBITS

C.J. Allen cruised to the win in the 400 hurdles at 49.57, followed by Jeffery Gibson of the Bahamas at 49.92. …The men’s high jump went to Jeron Robinson at 7-5 3/4 in a jump-off against Canada’s Django Lovett. He cleared 7-5 ¼. …The Oklahoma State women won the 3,200 relay in 8:25.41, the fastest Division I time in the country this season.

LOOKING AHEAD TO SATURDAY

Friday’s competition was held under largely pleasant conditions — but that likely won’t be the case on Saturday. The forecast calls for a high of just 50 degrees with steady rain and wind gusts reaching as high as 25 mph. Those conditions could force some of the meet’s elite athletes to think twice about competing and risking an injury this early in the season. World-record holder Keni Harrison is scheduled to compete for her fourth meet title in the 100-meter hurdles, while 2016 Olympic champion Omar McLeod leads the field in the 110 hurdles.