For the third consecutive year, the top men’s and women’s high jumpers in the United States will congregate in downtown Des Moines to compete in the Drake Relays Invitational Athlete High Jump.
The competition will run from 11:30 a.m. to 1 p.m. in Nollen Plaza at Third and Locust streets.
In case of heavy rain, the event will be held in the atrium of the adjacent Capital Square.
The athletes will give fans not only a sneak preview of what to expect during the Saturday session of the 99th annual Drake Relays but also a look at the top contenders who will be representing the United States at the Summer Olympics in Beijing, China.
The invitational men’s high jump field features seven of the top nine ranked performers in the nation, headed by Jesse Williams who was ranked No. 8 in the world last year.
Jamie Nieto, who was fourth in the 2004 Olympics, will compete along with 2007 U.S. Outdoor champion Jim Dilling; 2007 NCAA Outdoor champion Scott Sellers; Adam Shunk who won the 2006 U.S. Indoor Championships; Keith Moffat, ranked No. 8 in the U.S. last year; Marcus Harris, ranked No. 9 in the U.S. last year; and Trevor Barry from the Bahamas.
In addition, Nebraska’s Dusty Jonas, who won the 2008 NCAA indoor crown, also will compete.
Amy Acuff leads the women’s field
The women’s field is led by Amy Acuff, who competed in the 1996 and 2000 Olympics before finishing fourth at the 2004 Olympics;
and Chaunte Howard who won the high jump at the 2006 U.S. Indoor and Outdoor Championships while earning a silver medal at the 2005 World Outdoor Championships.
Sheena Gordon and Kaylene Wagner, who were ranked Nos. 7 and 8 in the U.S., respectively, last year, also will compete.
Howard is the 2008 women’s world leader in the high jump owning a leap of 6-4.75 at the Disney Invitational in Orlando, Fla., March 22.
Acuff won the 2008 U.S. Indoor Championships and placed sixth at the 2008 World Indoor Championships. She also won the high jump at the 1995, 1997, 2001, 2003, 2005 and 2007 U.S. Outdoor Championships.
Sellers owns the third best men’s outdoor mark in the world this spring of 7-6.5 set at the Texas Relays.
Williams was second at the 2008 U.S. Indoor Championships and tied for sixth at the 2008 World Indoor Championships.