By ANDREW LOGUE, REGISTER STAFF WRITER
Jeremy Wariner, a two-time Olympic gold medalist, is returning to the Drake Relays, the Register learned today.
Wariner, who won the 400 meters and was a member of the United State?s winning 4×400 relay at the Athens Games, will attempt to defend his invitational 200 title at the 98th running of the Relays April 26-28.
Also, Jebreh Harris, ranked No. 2 in the United States last year, will try to defend his men’s invitational 800-meters title during the Saturday, April 28, session.
Wariner?s list of accomplishments include for NCAA titles while at Baylor and two gold medals at the 2005 World Outdoor Championships.
He was named the 2006 U.S. athlete of the year by Track and Field News.
The 23-year old Wariner added to his world dominance in the 400 meters last year, posting a new personal best and the world’s fastest time of 43.62 seconds.
Harris will be challenged by Jonathan Johnson, who competed in the 2004 Olympics, and Christian Smith, a former Kansas State All-American. Both have run under the existing Drake Relays record of 1:45.86 set by Oklahoma’s Randy Wilson in 1978.
Johnson, 24, ended his collegiate career at Texas Tech in 2005 with nine all-America honors, four consecutive Big 12 Conference titles and 16 all-conference honors.
Johnson advanced to the semifinal round of the 800 at the 2004 Olympic Games as the school’s first male Olympian. He won the 800 (1:46.39) at the NCAA Outdoor Championship and also captured the 800 at the U.S. Olympic Trials, where he won with a personal best of 1:44.77.
Harris, 28, has been climbing his way to the top of the U.S. rankings and that trend continued in 2006 with his third-place finish at the U.S. Outdoor Championships when he established a personal-best time of 1:45.91. He placed sixth at both the 2005 U.S. Indoor and Outdoor Championships.
Smith, who was fifth in the 1,500 at the 2006 U.S. Outdoor Championships, owns a personal best of 1:44.86 in the 800 set last year in Lignano, Italy.
He won the Big 12 Conference outdoor title last year as a senior at Kansas State, while finishing eighth in the 1,500 at the 2006 NCAA Outdoor Championships. Smith anchored the Wildcats to a 2005 Drake Relays title in the university division 4×800 relay.
Other entries include: Sherridan Kirk, the national record holder for Trinidad & Tobago; Ricardo Bell, who was sixth in the 800 at the 2006 U.S. Indoor Championships; Jeremy Mims, who was fourth in the 800 at the 2005 NCAA Outdoor Championships; and Jacob Koczman, a former two-time NAIA national champion while competing for Northwestern (Iowa) College.