Bulldog fans will get their first opportunity to watch the 2011 track and field teams compete in a home meet this weekend when Drake Stadium hosts the Jim Duncan Invitational.
Head coach Natasha Brown is expecting a big performance from the team in front of the home crowd.
“Normally, this is a kind of a transitional meet for us,” Brown said. “We have done some really high-level competition, and now we kind of bring it down a little bit and really try and focus on some things we weren’t focusing on because the competition level was so high. It becomes more of a technical, relaxed meet for us.”
Brown added that the team has benefitted from the recent nice weather because it allows them to practice outdoors every day.
“We got into this funk with Spring Break and some transition with the weather, and it wasn’t cooperating,” Brown added. “We wanted to be outside as soon as the indoor season was over and we couldn’t. So we went back to practicing indoors for outdoor season which is always confusing. I think we are finally understanding what it’s like to be outside in the elements.”
Action begins with the men’s high jump at 3:30 p.m. tomorrow afternoon. Friday will consist of mainly distance and field events.
Multiple throwing events begin at 4 p.m. tomorrow with the women’s discus, men’s javelin and men’s shot put. Sophomore Kevin Harp and freshman Phillip Beeler are two athletes to catch at the javelin during this time frame. Harp is coming off a school-record performance last weekend. Junior Megan Pierce-Cramer has had an impressive start to the season after offseason surgery and should be throwing the discus.
“It’s really nice to now have them outdoors doing their thing and doing it very well,” Brown said about her throwers.
As far as running events tomorrow, the day will consist mainly of distance races. The 5,000-meter and 10,000-meter runs, and the 3,000-meter steeplechase will all be run tomorrow evening, starting at 5 p.m. Senior Casey McDermott is the school record holder in the steeplechase and is coming off a victory in the event last weekend.
Saturday is a full day of track and field with events starting at 8:30 a.m. and the final event scheduled to conclude at 6:30 p.m.
Senior Tyse Samani will be in the high jump at 11:30 a.m., sophomore Dan Karys should be competing in the long jump at 10:30 a.m. and the triple jump at 3:30 p.m., and the men’s hammer throw will have school record holder sophomore Isaac Twombly and freshman Andy Curtis throwing at 12:30 p.m.
The men’s team has several freshmen who have been enjoying early season success in the 1,500-meter, which begins at 11:30 a.m. At 1 p.m., the women’s 100-meter hurdles begins where sophomores Sarah Yeager and Marissa Smith have excelled to start the outdoor season. Junior Jon DeGrave, who had an excellent indoor season, has been closing in on the school record for the 400-meter hurdles this outdoor season, but was scratched from the lineup this weekend due injury.
“All of [the events] are going to be great,” Brown said. “You really can’t go wrong.”
Jim Duncan Invitational
Where: Drake Stadium
When: Friday, 3:30 – 7:35 p.m., and Saturday, 8:30 a.m. – 6:30 p.m.
Who: The Bulldogs will host their annual tune-up track meet before Drake Relays. Some of the top teams in the Midwest will compete, and there will also be high school events for local young track stars.
MEET NOTES: Sophomore Kevin Harp will look to break his school record in the javelin throw on Friday at 4 p.m. The Drake women’s squad will be without versatile star senior Ari Curtis, who got injured after falling over a hurdle at the Tom Botts Invitational last Saturday. Junior Jon DeGrave is closing in the school record in the 400-meter hurdles, but will not get a chance to break it this week because he will not compete due to injury.