Photo by Jeff Yoder
Your Prep Sports
The high school portion of the 110th Drake Relays got underway on Thursday but the action really heats up on Friday on the famed Blue Oval inside Drake Stadium in Des Moines.
After just one prep race on Thursday evening Friday brings seven running event finals for both high school boys and girls as well as two field events.
The action begins bright and early at 8 a.m. with preliminary heats of the shuttle hurdle relays and concludes Friday evening with 4x400 prelims at 8:39 p.m.
Here are some of the top things to watch in between those two events on a Friday jam packed with track and field.
It’s already been a historic Drake Relays for Solon which sent a school-record 10 events to Drake Stadium.
Half of the event qualifiers for the Spartans are relays which gives an indication of the type of depth on the Solon roster this season.
Friday offers the first chance for the loaded Solon relay group to show it can compete against the top competition in the state.
Solon enters with top five qualifying times in the sprint medley (third), 4x200 (fifth) and 4x400 (fourth).
All three of those Solon relay teams are anchored by senior Erin Kerkhoff who will have a busy day on Friday as she adds the open 400 to her Friday schedule.
Kerhoff is a three-time state medalist in the 400 and has the fourth fastest time in the state this spring at 58.19.
There might not be a more improved athlete in the Drake Relays field in any event than Peyton Steva.
In a span of a season the West High senior has propelled herself into the top hurdler in the state and enters the Drake Relays the favorite to earn the title in the 100 hurdles.
Steva was 29th in the 100 hurdles at the Drake Relays with a time of 16.12 and finished the season with a top time of 15.48.
This spring Steva is the only athlete to break 14.7 in the hurdles this season and has done so three times, posting the top time in the state at 14.63.
A title from Steva in the high hurdles on Friday would be the second championship in three seasons for West High in the event after Valerie Welch won the 2017 Drake title.
Liberty High freshman Ashley Keeney had a Drake Relays debut to remember winning the 3,000 in the fastest time in state history by a freshman.
Keeney will try to make it 2-for-2 in individual Drake Relays races on Friday in the shortest of her individual events the 800.
The freshman standout enters with the top time in the state this spring at 2:10.65 which is more than four seconds faster than the top time for Ottumwa junior Allison Bookin-Nosbisch.
Last season the breakthrough for the City High 4x800 squad didn’t come until the state meet when the Little Hawks rolled to the 4A title.
On Friday City High has its first shot at showing that despite losing three members from that state title team it will be a legit state title contender again this season.
City High has been solid so far in the event this season and enters with the seventh-best time in the state this season at 8:09.48.
Senior Daniel Brown is the only member back from last year’s title team and has a busy day on Friday that includes a spot in the open 800 in the afternoon and a leg on the City High 4x400 squad in the evening.
For the first time the Drake Relays schedule will feature the 400 and West High senior Gabe Caruthers would like nothing more than to claim that first 400 meter title.
The first-time event is shaping up to be a great one with the top four qualifiers entering with times separated by less than half a second.
Bettendorf senior standout Darien Porter has the top time in the state this spring, posting a 48.51 in his only time running the event this season.
Caruthers is right on his heels at 48.82 while Aaron Smith of Waukee has clocked a 48.91 and Jorma Schwedler of Sergeant Bluff-Luton has logged a 48.99.
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