Sports

Area athletes head to Drake

GTNS photo by Doug Brenneman

Washington High School track team members that are headed to the Drake Relays are (front row left to right) Jacob Miller, Jenah Greiner, Isabel Bailey, Leah Marek, Ashley Telleen, Lincoln Kleese, (back row) Coach Steve Roth, Ethan Hunt, Spencer Sotelo, Cade Hennigan, Luke Turner and Coach Stefanie Haworth. Not pictured: Mitchell Driscoll
GTNS photo by Doug Brenneman Washington High School track team members that are headed to the Drake Relays are (front row left to right) Jacob Miller, Jenah Greiner, Isabel Bailey, Leah Marek, Ashley Telleen, Lincoln Kleese, (back row) Coach Steve Roth, Ethan Hunt, Spencer Sotelo, Cade Hennigan, Luke Turner and Coach Stefanie Haworth. Not pictured: Mitchell Driscoll

It is an event that many want to go to but few qualify for. It is not even an official Iowa High School Athletic Association event or an Iowa Girls High School Athletic Union event.

It is a coveted invite. It is the Drake Relays, held today through Saturday in Des Moines.

Washington High School has a girls 4x100 meter relay team going and a boys 4x1 team going along with Ethan Hunt in the 400 hurdles.

The boys are taking Jacob Miller, Luke Turner, Cade Hennigan and Spencer Sotelo along with alternates Mitchell Driscoll and Lincoln Kleese.

The girls will run their relay with Isabel Bailey, Leah Marek, Jenah Greiner and Ashley Telleen.

Mid-Prairie has Marie Hostetler going in two events, the 3000 and the 1500. The boys 4x1 of Clarke Latcham, Tom Butters, Grant Boyse and Elmir Ganbegovic also qualified.

Highland’s Emily Yahnke will go in the long jump.

The inaugural Drake Relays were held in 1910. The first meet drew just 100 spectators and 82 athletes, all from Des Moines-area colleges and high schools. The second year, however, drew 250 athletes and a crowd of some 500 spectators. In 1914, the Relays saw its first world record set. By 1922, the Relays had been expanded into a two-day event that drew 10,000 fans and became the first major track and field event broadcast on the radio.

The 1966 Relays began a streak of 48 consecutive Saturdays with a sellout. In 1969, a $175,000 tartan track was installed. The events at the Relays would go all-metric beginning in 1976; the track was rebuilt in a 400-meter oval in 1978. The track oval was resurfaced in 1983 and in 1988 was renamed the “Jim Duncan Track” to honor the long time relays public address announcer.

Hundreds of Olympic gold medalists have competed at Drake Stadium.

In November 2012, Midwest grocer Hy-Vee was announced as the presenting sponsor beginning in 2013. Through the sponsorship, the Relays will offer a $50,000 purse in running events and $25,000 purse in field events, making the Drake Relays the richest athletics event in the United States. Further, 90 minutes of live-action coverage were aired on ESPN2 and an additional two hours on ESPN3.

Among other recent enhancements, in January 2018 Drake Relays unveiled the Blue Standard. Iowa’s top high school athletes can now automatically qualify for the relays based on their times in their respective events. The Blue Standard is based on the historical data of the top 25 percent of accepted entries from past Drake Relays.

The 4x100 qualifies 96 teams apiece in the boys and the girls.

The girls start Saturday at 9:28 a.m. with the boys to follow. The finals of the girls 4x1 will be at 3:32 p.m. with the boys to follow.

Yahnke will be in the long jump flight at 5 p.m. today. Yahnke was 21st last year at Drake in the long jump.

Hostetler will run the 3000 at 5:40 p.m. today and the 3000 at 4:20 Saturday. Hostetler was seventh in the 1500 last year at Drake.

“It is just a fun event for the kids to get some experience is the way we are approaching the meet,” Washington boys coach Steve Roth said. “All the pressure was qualifying and getting the right to run up there, so there is no pressure now. It’s all about the kids. It is a great reward for them. The idea is to enjoy the experience and use it to prepare for the state meet.”

Drake Relays information was provided by Wikipedia.