STORY BY ADAM ROGAN
As teams like Men’s Tennis, Women’s Basketball and Softball shine in the Missouri Valley Conference, other teams in Drake University Athletics have faded from the limelight. Drake Track and Field, although a strong team, have struggled to keep the pace in larger, more competitive meets.
Head coach Natasha Brown feels that the scores underrate the team’s abilities, citing the fact that Drake is a smaller school with fewer opportunities in recruiting.
“We need more bodies,” Brown said. “For us it’s really about the recruiting. It’s about getting the right person to fit here because they also have to be academically sound to fit here.”
Although several individuals have brought gold medals back to Des Moines and personal bests are being set at nearly every meet, Bulldogs Track and Field has not garnered much recognition, even if they are the hosts and known for one of the biggest events of the season in Drake Relays.
Both the men and women have won just one team competition this season, both in a dual against Iowa State back in January, while high rankings have been hard to come by in full-scale meets.
The Men’s team has never placed higher than second to last and the Women’s best is sixth of eight, which came at the Holiday Inn Invitational in Lincoln, Nebraska back in January.
The Men’s Track and Field team currently has 33 athletes and the women have 34.
This is less than the national average of 39 men and 38 women for Division I Track and Field, which puts Drake not far behind overall, but makes it difficult for them to stay competitive against tougher competition.
As a comparison, the University of Iowa has 46 male and 48 female athletes. In the Missouri Valley Conference the University of Northern Iowa’s team includes 46 males and 45 females while Wichita State has 59 males and 67 females, vastly deeper teams than Drake.
Brown also mentioned that much of this is a result of Drake giving less athletic scholarships than most of their competitors and because of how expensive Drake can be.
“In the end we’re always going to be the private school against the state schools and that’s going to be tough,” Brown said.
Regardless, the Bulldogs have a plenty of competitions ahead of them in the schedule as the team continues to improve, as shown by the plethora of PRs set this season.
The team will test their skills in California at the San Francisco State Distance Carnival and the Stanford Invitational this weekend, several Drake athletes are set to compete in each meet.