Yetzer caps career with fourth Drake Relays title

Senior Elizabeth Yetzer started the anchor leg of the 4×1,600-meter relay in second, but surged and won the race by more than 10 seconds at last weekend’s Drake Relays.

Dane Mizutani

Elizabeth Yetzer said entering the meet she understood the modern legacy Minnesota brings to the Drake Relays.

The Gophers were riding an unprecedented streak into Des Moines, Iowa, last weekend, having won four 4×1,600-meter titles in the past five years.

YetzerâÄôs goal was to make it five-of-six, but it was not easily achieved âÄî at first.

When she took the baton as the anchor leg, Minnesota was behind and it felt as though the race would come down to the wire.

But Yetzer said this gap did not faze her. She drafted behind IowaâÄôs Lauren Hardesty and made her move as the race neared a close.

Once ahead she never looked back, winning the race for her team by more than 10 seconds.

âÄúOn a relay you feel so invested and want to do well for your team.âÄù Yetzer said. âÄúI had a lot left and was able to get the win for the team. It was pretty special.âÄù

Assistant coach Gary Wilson said YetzerâÄôs strong finish encapsulated the work ethic and headiness of his senior distance runner.

âÄúShe is very smart and thatâÄôs why I put her there at the anchor,âÄù Wilson said. âÄúShe knows when to move and knows not to panic. She moved exactly when she should have. SheâÄôs got a lot of savvy and is a tough kid.âÄù

This victory was YetzerâÄôs fourth career Drake Relays title in the 4×1,600-meter relay âÄî  putting her in a league of her own as the first athlete in GophersâÄô history to accomplish such a feat.

Yetzer started her career with Minnesota as a highly touted athlete out of high school.

Wilson said this status affected her style early on as she was âÄútrying to live up to unrealistic expectations,âÄù but once she took a step back and realized she didnâÄôt have to do it all, she thrived.

YetzerâÄôs triumph at the Drake Relays culminates what has been a year and career of continued growth.

âÄúIâÄôm feeling comfortable right now,âÄù Yetzer said. âÄúIâÄôm anxious to see what happens at the Big Ten meet. Hopefully I can finish my career with the Gophers strong.âÄù

When the season concludes, her presence on the team will be missed.

âÄúItâÄôs going to be a huge hole to fill,âÄù Wilson said. âÄúSheâÄôs a talented athlete, but sheâÄôs also a great kid, a great leader, a great captain. We never really replace one of those kids. She will have a great legacy here.âÄù

YetzerâÄôs legacy may be further enhanced in two weeks when she competes in her final Big Ten championships.

âÄúSheâÄôs running as well as she has run ever here,âÄù Wilson said. âÄúSheâÄôs in great shape, her headâÄôs on straight, sheâÄôs ready to go. I think sheâÄôll go out with a bang and do a really nice job.âÄù

After YetzerâÄôs final competition, head coach Matt Bingle said he is confident the mark she leaves on the world will be even greater than the mark she has left in her time with the Gophers.

âÄúSheâÄôs been a great teammate and a great athlete,âÄù he said. âÄúSheâÄôs just an awesome person who is going to have a huge impact on the world and that is probably the most important thing. This is just the tip of the iceberg for what she going to do.âÄù

This future impact on the world is something Yetzer put an emphasis on as well.

âÄúIt been such a great opportunity to use my sport as a way to love and serve other people,âÄù she said. âÄúThatâÄôs kind of what keeps me motivated.âÄù