Prep Track and Field

Clock is ticking toward 2018 Drake Relays deadline

Relays director calls this 'a uniquely challenging year' in terms of weather

Snow covers the high-jump landing pad at Kingston Stadium on Monday. (Jim Slosiarek/The Gazette)
Snow covers the high-jump landing pad at Kingston Stadium on Monday. (Jim Slosiarek/The Gazette)

CEDAR RAPIDS — April weather in Iowa is touchy anyway.

But this year has been above (or below, depending on your perspective) and beyond.

“It has been a uniquely challenging year (for track and field),” Drake Relays director Blake Boldon said during a visit to The Gazette on Friday.

“There was a meet at Bondurant ... the wind picked up the high-jump mat during the meet and blew it onto the track.”

Since the outdoor season began in late March, the majority of high-school meets in Eastern Iowa have been postponed or canceled due to inclement weather.

Of the first six outdoor meets The Gazette was slated to cover, five were called off. In the other one, it was 40 degrees when the meet concluded.

Time is growing short for Drake qualification — less than two weeks, and the clock is ticking. The deadline is 11:59 p.m. April 19.

“One good thing is that things have evolved for high-schoolers in terms of indoor-meet opportunities,” Boldon said.

Conditions are forecast to improve somewhat this week, starting with partly sunny skies Tuesday with a high in the low 50s.

The blue standard

Boldon said the inception of the Blue Standard for high-school qualifiers is driven by social media as much as anything.

“This gives the top Iowa athletes an opportunity to celebrate the achievement of qualifying for the Drake Relays,” Boldon said. “It allows the athlete to put it straight onto Instagram.”

The Blue Standard is in its first year. Anyone who achieves it automatically qualifies for Drake. The times and distances for Blue Standards are well ahead of the curve for what cutoffs will be when the deadline arrives.

“It gives the media and community members a way to identify with the common language of excellence,” Boldon said.

About the 400

Many track fans consider the 400-meter dash one of the premier track events.

But for high-schoolers, it’s still not on the Drake schedule. Boldon said there’s a reason for that.

“The 400 is a compelling race, but there are a lot of opportunities for good 400 runners to run in relays,” he said. “If you’re a good 400, you’re likely running the medley, the 4-by-4, maybe the 4-by-2 or 4-by-8.”

Boldon said the Relays committee “will continue to evaluate” the possibility of adding the open 400 someday.

“I don’t want to de-emphasize the team aspect,” he said, meaning the relays.

l Comments: (319) 368-8857; jeff.linder@thegazette.com

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