116 3rd St SE
Cedar Rapids, Iowa 52401
DES MOINES — For the first time since 2019, the Drake Relays will be a full-go, on the track, in the field and in the stands.
COVID-19 canceled the event in 2020, and attendance was extremely limited last year.
But it’s back to normal now, and high school competition begins Thursday afternoon. With a nod to Drake Stadium’s blue eight-lane track, here are eight things to watch:
1. Swartzendruber twins: Side by side
Cedar Rapids Kennedy sophomore twins Addison and Sidney Swartzendruber both earned spots in the fast heat of the girls’ 400-meter dash.
With a season best of 57.16 seconds (achieved Thursday at Iowa City High), Addison is the fifth seed. Sidney (57.79, reached April 12 at Ames) is No. 7.
As a result, they will run in adjacent lanes (1 and 2). The girls’ 400 is scheduled for 5:14 Friday afternoon.
The twins also will run the last two legs of Kennedy’s sprint medley relay, along with Grace Braden and Allison Harris.
2. Keaton Roskop: Two throws, two relays
Linn-Mar’s Keaton Roskop is equal parts strength and speed.
The sophomore will compete in a unique four-event program — two throws and two sprint relays, both of which he will anchor.
Roskop qualified in the shot put (51 feet, 7 inches) and the discus (161-8), and is penciled in as the fourth runner in the 400- and 800-meter relays.
He will join Isaac Guerrero, Carter Henderson and T.J. Jackson in a 4x100 that has a chance to reach the finals; Guerrero, Taylor Ferguson, Hudson Hart and Roskop are penciled in as the Lions’ 4x200 team.
3. Danielle Hostetler: Making up for lost time
Mid-Prairie distance ace Danielle Hostetler had spent much of the spring recovering from a stress reaction in her shin.
But last Thursday, the final day before the Drake qualification deadline, the sophomore vaulted to the state lead in the girls’ 1,500 meters, running 4:41.71 at a home meet in Wellman.
Hostetler won three Class 2A events at last year’s state meet (1,500, 3,000 and distance medley relay) and is a two-time state cross country champion.
4. Kole Becker takes on the big-school boys
It appears that Lisbon senior Kole Becker will compete in four individual events, and he’s a title threat in all of them.
The Iowa State recruit is the favorite in the boys’ 400-meter hurdles at 53.69 seconds, is the No. 2 seed in the 110-meter highs and the long jump and No. 4 in the 400.
His long jump of 24 feet, 5 1/4 inches at Davenport Assumption on April 9 ranks No. 3 all-time in Iowa. That same day, Southeast Polk’s Abu Sama soared 24-10 to move to No. 1 all-time.
5. Speaking of small-school hopefuls ...
In terms of enrollment, Belle Plaine is the 272nd-largest high school in the state.
In the boys’ shuttle hurdle relay, let’s just say the Plainsmen punch above their class.
The foursome of Ethan Hamilton, Connor Timm, Eli Ehlen and Ben DeMeulenaere will be gunning to reach the finals in that event. They have posted a time of 1:01.01, fifth best in the preliminary field of 16.
Belle Plaine and Lisbon are the only two 1A teams to qualify in the boys’ shuttle.
6. Quest for the Cup
Led by Gabby Cortez, Cedar Rapids Prairie is a contender — if not the favorite — for the girls’ Hy-Vee Cup.
A University of Iowa recruit, Cortez is slated to run on the Hawks’ 1,600- and 3,200-meter relays, as well as the sprint medley. Prairie is the top seed in the 4x800 and sprint medley, No. 2 in the 4x400.
Prairie also is seeded No. 7 in the other Cup event, the 400-meter relay.
Ames is the only other girls’ team seeded in the top eight in all four Cup relays. Iowa City High, Waukee Northwest and Solon are the other girls’ contenders.
West Des Moines Dowling and City High are co-favorites in the boys’ Cup race.
7. The boys’ distance races are stacked
The boys’ 3,200-meter race is full of talent. Overfilled, in fact.
A field that was supposed to consist of 21 runners will be filled beyond capacity, due to the fact that 22 runners eclipsed the Blue Standard of 9:34.50.
The field at last Thursday’s Forwald-Coleman Relays reflected the depth and talent in that event, with six runners running 9:34 or better.
Jackson Heidesch of West Des Moines Dowling leads the field at 9:05.80. Iowa City rivals Ford Washburn (City High, 9:15.90) and Alex McKane (West, 9:21.65) are two of the strongest challengers.
Washburn is the pacesetter in the 1,600 at 4:13.24. Seven others have run sub-4:20.
8. An eye on the forecast
Drake Relays weather is always an adventure.
Here is the Des Moines forecast:
Thursday: Morning showers. High of 65, low of 51. Wind out of the southeast at 14 mph. Chance of rain: 40 percent.
Friday: Afternoon and evening thunderstorms. High of 62, low of 55. Wind out of the southeast at 19 mph. Chance of rain: 50 percent.
Saturday: Thunderstorms likely. High of 64, low of 45. Wind out of the south at 18 mph. Chance of rain: 60 percent.
A reminder to fans: Umbrellas are not permitted inside Drake Stadium.