Track sprints towards Drake Relays


Becca Langys / Photo Editor

Nick Olson throws shotput.

Bradley Piros, Assistant Sports Editor

MACOMB, Ill. – The Western Illinois University track and field teams head up to Des Moines, Iowa to take part in the prestigious Drake Relays presented by HyVee. The event is hosted by the Drake University Bulldogs on their beautiful blue track at Drake Stadium and is noted as “America’s Athletic Classic.”

This inaugural event, has been going on since 1910, and used to draw up to 10,000 fans. Nowadays, the venue can hold up to 14,500 fans and the event continues to get bigger. Schools travel from all across America to put on a true spectacle of endurance, perseverance and speed in what is considered one of the most prominent meets of the year.

This six-day meet started last Sunday with the half marathon/10K and 5K run, as well as the “Beautiful Bulldog Contest.” Action resumed yesterday with the Grand Blue Mile, where people of all ages can either compete or run for fun through the downtown streets of Des Moines. It is one of the city’s biggest traditions. All of these are just the annual festivities before the real action over at Drake Stadium.

Track events started this morning with the decathlon and heptathlon, but the real fun doesn’t start until tomorrow. It’ll start in the morning with the second day of the decathlon and heptathlon at 10:30 a.m. and then will take a four-hour break until things pick back up with the first field events.

Discus will start at 4 p.m. followed by the high jump, long jump and shot put. After that track events will officially kick off around 5 p.m. and the meet will be fully underway for the thousands of expected fans to admire.

In such a big meet, Western actually doesn’t have a lot of competitors. They have a men’s and a women’s 1600-meter distance medley, a men’s and women’s 4 x 800, as well as a few other athletes and relays scheduled to participate.

Among those athletes will be freshman Nick Olson throwing shot put as well as sophomore Nicole Beebe in the 5,000-meter run. They won’t be alone as they’ll have senior Jasmine Brown competing in the long jump, and to comfort them on what will probably be their most hectic meet of their respected careers thus far.

They’ll all be up against some stiff competition this weekend. Kansas State University as well as their arch rival University of Kansas Jayhawks will be representing the BIG 12 conference. The University of Iowa Hawkeyes, the Fighting Illini of University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, Purdue University as well as Ohio State University will all be representing the BIG 10, and all of these schools are just naming a few.

More than 40 universities as well as countless other high schools compete in this meet, making it one of the biggest events of its kind in the Midwest. With all these high-status universities comes great athletes. Of the thousands of former competitors that have taken part in the Drake Relays, 113 of them competed at the 2012 Olympics.

That’s what’s at stake here for Western. It’ll be tough obviously, but if you’re going to make a name for yourself, this is the time and the place to do it. Events started this morning and will continue until Saturday.

Twitter: bradjp08