STORY BY ADAM ROGAN
Several hundred athletes will arrive in Des Moines to compete at the historic Drake Relays every spring.
This time is especially significant for the Track and Field team, as world-class athletes in their sport descend on Drake Stadium.
Some of the best college-level talent comes to Relays in addition to the world-class athletes, which is part of what causes the event to draw such large crowds.
Many Bulldogs will face off against these competitors, but not all of them get that opportunity. Several members of the Drake Track and Field team will not be participating in the Relays.
It is up to head coach Natasha Brown and the other Track and Field coaches to make the decisions on who will be able to participate in the meets and who won’t be able to run on the blue oval this year.
“Even though it is our home meet and we technically put them in, we want them to have a good experience with it so it doesn’t make sense to put you out there if you’re not ready for it,” Brown said.
The coaches don’t like denying their athletes the privilege of running in the biggest meet of the season, but sometimes tough decisions need to be made.
“It’s kind of hard,” Brown said. “That week is so tough because there are qualifying standards and we won’t necessarily put our athletes out there unless we feel like they are going to be competitive.”
Other than that, many of these athletes may be helping out behind-the-scenes at Relays, whether it be taking splits on distance races, ushering spectators or helping set-up equipment for the competitions.
Some of the others athletes who will not be competing at Drake or helping out will still be competing this week, traveling to Indianola, Iowa for the Kip Janvrin Invitational on Thursday and Friday.
“Usually we’ll send ones who are on the cuffs of making Drake Relays, like if they’re potentially going to develop,” Brown said. “We may send them to the Kip Janvrin race, but it’s hard for us because we can’t be in two places at the same time.”
Regardless of whoever represents the white and blue, the team wants the best athletes to represent the Bulldogs this week.
“We’re trying to assemble really some powerful relays (teams),” Brown said. “It’s fun for us. This is the one time that we actually can run several different relays.”