By Andrew Donlan
The Iowa track and field team will head to the Drake Relays on Thursday through Saturday. The meet will only be the second time the team has competed in Iowa this outdoor season, the first being at the Musco Twilight on the Cretzmeyer Track.
Drake is always a big event for the Hawkeyes; it’s a “local” meet toward the end of the season, the last chance for the Hawkeyes to prepare for the Big Ten meet on May 11-13 in Bloomington, Indiana.
Last year, the Iowa men captured the 2017 Hy-Vee Cup, and the women finished seventh. The men had three relay victories, the most in the history of Iowa track and field, and the squad finished with 39 points.
“This has been one of our goals the past few years since they came up with this concept,” Iowa Director of Track and Field Joey Woody told Hawkeye Sports after last year’s championship. “It’s a lot of fun, and it makes it a team atmosphere.”
The three relays that the men won were the 4×800 (7:24.77), the 4×400 (3:07.35), and the sprint medley (3:20.40).
This year, the men’s 4×400 is first in the Big Ten, fourth in the nation, with a time of 3:04.38. That team comprises Mar’Yea Harris, Collin Hofacker, Dejuan Frye, and Bradford Garron.
Carter Lilly helped Iowa in both the sprint medley and the 4×800 last year. For Lilly, an Iowa native, the Drake Relays are special.
“It’s always fun to come to Drake and win flags,” Lilly told Hawkeye Sports last year. “I’ve wanted to be a Hawkeye since I was a kid so to be able to come here and represent the University is really cool.”
Lilly was a Big Ten champion in the indoor season, running the third leg on the surprising victorious team in the distance medley relay. The Hawkeyes’ time, 9:45.10, ranks third in Iowa history.
The Iowa men are first in the Big Ten and the women are third thus far in the outdoor season. Those ranks are thanks to Brittany Brown in the 200 (22.76 seconds), Harris in the 400 (45.71 seconds), Nathan Mylenek in the 3,000 steeplechase (8:48.66), Laulauga Tausaga in the discus (59.87 meters), Jahisha Thomas in the long jump (6.44 meters), and the men’s 4×400.
A strong performance at Drake this weekend would call for great expectations heading in the Big Tens.
Woody recalled last year’s performance when recognizing the importance of this season’s event.
“It showed our overall team ability and being able to cover a lot of events; that was great to recognize our program last year,” Woody told Hawkeye Sports. “It has been our goal the last few years to go in and win the Drake Relays Hy-Vee Cup. That was something we planned on doing; it was a battle, but our kids showed up.”
After the Drake Relays, Iowa will have a weekend off to prepare for Big Ten Championships weekend.