Sports

Big-time track and field coming to Iowa in 2020

Ogden column: A few things to think about during a sports break

There won't be fans, but a professional track and field meet will be held at Drake Stadium later this month. The Blue Ov
There won’t be fans, but a professional track and field meet will be held at Drake Stadium later this month. The Blue Oval Showcase will be a one-time event on Aug. 29. (Jim Slosiarek/The Gazette)

It’s been a while — too long, actually — since I filled this space with some random news or thoughts on aforementioned random news.

So the best way for a return is to take a look inside by inbox and see what I can find.

There’s been a lot happening in our sports world recently — Iowa high schools completed a baseball and softball season that had some hiccups but can only be described as a success; high school fall sports begin practice next week, including football; the Big 12 Conference announced plans for football this fall (still waiting on Big Ten); Luka Garza announced he will return to Iowa for his senior basketball season and now the Hawkeyes are legitimate Big Ten title contenders with even higher hopes.

All of that has been covered on these pages, one of the reasons I haven’t had to fill any space for some time.

Here are some things you might have missed or maybe didn’t know, something I like to call “this, that and another thing:”

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Drake Relays director Blake Bolden has worked almost non-stop to bring a major track and field event to Iowa since the Relays — and all track and field — were postponed in April.

He had to announce the actual Drake Relays won’t be run in 2020, but hope to return in April 2021. Now, a week after that tough decision, he announced the “Blue Oval Showcase” will be held at Drake Stadium later this month.

This will be a one-time “one-of-a-kind event,” featuring professional competition Aug. 29. There won’t be any high school or college competition, but big-time track and field will be held in Iowa.

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“For months, our staff has been in constant communication and collaboration with local leadership and USA Track & Field to create an event that returns the sport of track and field to competition safely,” Boldon said in the news release. “With the health and well-being of the athletes, coaches, officials, volunteers and our community of paramount concern, we’re excited to be the first significant professional track and field competition to be staged on American soil since March.”

There will be no fans in the stands and only athletes and officials will be allowed on the competition surface. Event and athlete support staff will be allowed in the stands, but the first four rows will be closed.

There will be sprints, hurdles, field events and the USATF 1 Mile Road Championships.

Keep an eye out for information on the schedule and who will compete.

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As mentioned above, the high school football season is starting — camps this week and official practice on Monday.

Fifteen players from Iowa, including four from Eastern Iowa, are on Sports Illustrated’s All-America team “watch list.”

Connor Colby, a 6-foot-5, 270-pound guard at Cedar Rapids Kennedy, is joined on the list by Marcus Morgan of Iowa City West, TJ Bollers of Clear Creek Amana and Jeffrey Bowie of West Branch.

Other Iowans are Brody Brecht of Ankeny, Griffin Liddle of Bettendorf, Thomas Fidone Jr. of Lewis Central, Jim Bonifas of Dubuque Senior, Cooper DeJean of Ida Grove OABCIG, Henry Lutovsky of Mount Pleasant, Zach Twedt of Roland-Story, Seth Malcom of Fremont-Mills, Jayden Williams of West Des Moines Valley and Jaden Harrell and Max Llewellyn of Urbandale.

Colby and defensive end Bowie, 6-5 and 245, have committed to Iowa, along with Brecht, DeJean, Twedt, Liddle, Harrell and Llewellyn. Bonifas picked Iowa State.

The Hawks and Cyclones have Morgan — a 6-3, 180-pound quarterback — on their “target” lists.

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Bollers, a 6-2, 250-pound defensive end, announced recently he will continue his career at Wisconsin.

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Here’s something you may not have heard about someone longtime newspaper readers may remember.

Bob Denney, a jack-of-all-trades sportswriter at The Gazette three decades ago, recently retired from the PGA of America. Bob, 68, worked as a writer and historian for the organization for 28 years.

“I just thought Bob would be perfect for the job,” Jock Olson, the former Cedar Rapids Country Club pro who recommended Bob apply for his dream job in 1992, told the Palm Beach Post in a retirement story. “Bob was a great writer, he loved golf and he always thoroughly researched his stories.

“It’s hard to spend five minutes with Bob and not become a friend.”

It didn’t take long for Bob to find his place at the national headquarters in Palm Beach Gardens, Fla.

“I really believe the PGA Professional is a great friend to have in life,” Denney said in that Post story. “I still remember my first PGA Pro, Keith Hannan, who took me under his wing when I started playing. PGA Professionals are genuine people. I have covered a lot of sports and golf has the greatest people in all of sports.”

Bob, who continued to contribute stories to The Gazette, isn’t done. He has accepted the new role of PGA Historian Emeritus.

“If anyone deserves it, it’s Bob,” Olson said. “He has done so much for the PGA Professionals.”

Comments: (319) 368-8696; jr.ogden@thegazette.com

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We value your trust and work hard to provide fair, accurate coverage. If you have found an error or omission in our reporting, tell us here.

Or if you have a story idea we should look into? Tell us here.