News on the Drake Relays.


World Class Vaulters Psyched For Relays Indoor Vault

Blake Boldon-Director of the Drake Relays ©Jim Kirby 2017

Blake Boldon-Director of the Drake Relays
©Jim Kirby 2017

Another lineup of world-class women’s pole vaulters is slated to thrill the Drake Stadium crowd at the 2018 Drake Relays presented by Hy-Vee, Blake Boldon, the Franklin P. Johnson Director of the Drake Relays announced, Tuesday, April 17.

Courtesy Drake Relays, click here! Feature photo:©


The lineup for the men’s pole vault was announced April 3.

The women’s pole vault competition includes 2016 Olympic silver medalist and Drake Relays favorite, Sandi Morris. Morris is the American record holder in the event with a personal best of 16-4.75 (5.00m) that is also the second highest clearance ever by a woman in the event.

Another record holder from North America joins Morris in the field as Canadian national record holder Alysha Newman returns to Des Moines. Newman recently won gold at the Commonwealth Games in Australia and was seventh at the 2017 World Championships. Her Canadian record stands at 15-7 (4.75m) and she finished third last season at the Drake Relays.

Katie Nageotte, who is having her finest season as a professional, will challenge the pair as a vaulter who has shattered the 16-foot mark. That personal best of 16-1.25 (4.91m) came in winning the USA Indoor Championship this past winter en route to finishing fifth at the World Indoor Championship.

Six other vaulters in the 11-athlete field have also cleared 15 feet to ensure that this year’s Drake Relays pole vault competition will live up to the excitement produced in recent years.

Fans in Des Moines will have the opportunity to get up close and personal with five members of that field with the Pole Vault at Capital Square, Wednesday, April 25, inside the atrium of Capital Square in downtown Des Moines at 6 p.m.

Morris, Nageotte and Newman are all slated to compete in the one-of-a-kind competition along with Kristen Brown and Kristen Hixson. They will be joined by previously announced competitors in the men’s field such as Olympic medalist and 2017 World Champion Sam Kendricks and 2015 World Champion Shawn Barber. Scott Houston, Andrew Irwin and Mike Arnold will also compete inside Capital Square.

Following the Wednesday, April 25, event at Capital Square, the men will compete inside Drake Stadium Friday, April 27, at 6 p.m. The women will take to the runway at 2 p.m. Saturday, April 28.

Tickets to enjoy those competitions inside Drake Stadium are available for both Friday, Saturday and all sessions by visiting

Omar McLeod-Olympic Gold Medalist
©Mike Byrnes 2017

The World Hurdlers Back For the Relays

Kendra Harrison ©Mike Brynes 2017

Kendra Harrison
©Mike Brynes 2017

For a generation, the Drake Relays presented by Hy-Vee has been a go-to destination for the world’s top hurdlers and 2018 will continue that tradition, according to Blake Boldon, the Franklin P. Johnson Director of the Drake Relays.

Courtesy Drake Relays, click here! Feature photo: Omar McLeod-Olympic Gold Medalist ©Mike Byrnes 2017


Boldon unveiled the competitors selected to compete in the women’s 100-meter hurdles and men’s 110-meter hurdles. The two races will feature both world record holders, four Olympic medalists and eight total Olympians hurdling down the Blue Oval homestretch.

Omar McLeod, a three-time Drake Relays champion and the 2016 Olympic gold medalist reprises his role as a Blue Oval favorite as the two-time defending champion in the event and Drake Relays record holder. The Jamaican owns his country’s national record in the event with a personal best of 12.90 and has run faster than 13.30 27 times in his young career.

Veteran Aries Merritt, the world record holder and 2012 Olympic gold medalist will continue to provide an experienced challenge to the upstart McLeod. Merritt’s world record time of 12.80 has survived as the standard of the event for five years and he has logged an impressive 72 finishes under the 13.30 mark.

As jaw-dropping as the men’s field is, the women’s 100-meter hurdles is equally without peer with a world record holder and defending two-time Drake Relays champion plus an Olympic gold medalist returning to headline another outstanding lineup.

Kendra Harrison boasts the current world record in the event at 12.20 and is in search of a third-straight Drake Relays title, a feat that has not been accomplished in the race in a decade. Dawn Harper-Nelson, a Blue Oval staple, is also in the field as a two-time Olympic medalist including a gold in 2012. The five-time World Championship qualifier owns a personal best of 12.37. Tobi Amusan, the newly crowned Commonwealth Games champion from Nigeria, was recently added to lineup as another competitor who has run faster than 13 seconds.

Others who are no strangers to the Drake Relays are also in the talent-packed field include Kristi Castlin, the 2016 Olympic bronze medalist and two-time Drake Relays champion as well as the 2015 champion, Jasmin Stowers.

Beyond those household names, the men’s field boasts equally impressive credentials including 2016 Olympic finalists in Canada’s Johnathan Cabral and the USA’s Devon Allen. The newly minted USA Indoor champion and World Indoor Championships silver medalist Jarret Eaton is equally primed for an impressive 110 meters at Drake Stadium.

The women’s field also boasts Kori Carter, a world class 400-meter hurdler and the World Champion in the event, who is trying her hand at the 100-meter hurdles and British Olympian Tiffany Ofili. Devynne Charlton, a Relays favorite and collegian at Purdue, joins the elite field for the second-straight year as one of the world’s top young talents in the sport after earning a spot in the finals of the World Indoor Championships in the 60-meter hurdles.

Serbian Olympian and national record holder Milan Ristic is slated to make his Blue Oval debut while the current USA Outdoor champion, Aleec Harris returns to the Blue Oval in search of his first Drake Relays title since 2015. Local favorite Aaron Mallett returns to Des Moines after winning the Drake Relays titles last year as a collegian at the University of Iowa and earning four All-America honors as a Hawkeye.

Both races will be contested within 15 minutes of each other inside Drake Stadium Saturday, April 28. The women’s race is slated to start at 2:37 p.m. followed shortly by the men’s race. A total of six hurdle races will be staged in a 50-minute window starting at 2 p.m. Saturday including the men’s and women’s 400-meter hurdles that features a total of 11 combined Olympians.

Tickets to enjoy those competitions inside Drake Stadium are available for both Friday, Saturday and all sessions by visiting

©Mike Brynes 2017

“Drake Prepares For USA Outdoor Championships” by Mike Mahon

Karissa Schweizer-Dowling-Mizzou, Shelby Houlihan-SC East-ASU and Jenny Simpson-Webster City ©Mike Brynes 2017

Karissa Schweizer-Dowling-Mizzou, Shelby Houlihan-SC East-ASU and Jenny Simpson-Webster City
©Mike Brynes 2017

In less than two months all eyes around the world will be focused on venerable Drake Stadium when it hosts the U.S. Outdoor Track and Field Championships June 21-24.

Feature photo: ©Mike Brynes 2017


World record holders and Olympic medalists as well American record holders and NCAA champions will converge on the blue oval in the biggest sporting event Iowa will host this summer.


“We want the top athletes and coaches in the U.S. to feel like the blue oval is a home away from away and Des Moines is a world class destination for the sport of track and field,” said Drake Relays director Blake Boldon.


Count on several native Iowans challenging for national titles. 2016 Olympian Shelby Houlihan, a native of Sioux City, returns to defending her outdoor title in the women’s 5,000. She also is a four-time USA Indoor champ.


Jenny Simpson, reigning Olympic bronze medalist in the 1500 as well as former World Outdoor champ (2011), is expected to compete as well. Born in Webster City, Ia., Simpson has combined to win 11 U.S. indoor and outdoor national titles.


Five-time NCAA champ Karissa Schweizer, a former West Des Moines Dowling Catholic prep standout, also will run in distance races.


If past history is any indication, track and field fans should be in store for some memorable moments on and off the track at U.S. Outdoor Track and Field Championships.


This will mark the third time Drake Stadium has served as the host of the USA Outdoor Track and Field Championships.


Each time fans have witnessed a bevy of American records.


Two American women’s records were set the first time Drake hosted the U.S. Championships in 2010.


2008 Olympian and Olympic Trials record holder Kara Patterson set an American record in the women’s javelin on her final attempt that soared 218 feet 8 inches, 2005 World Outdoor Championships silver medalist Chaunte Lowe set an American record in winning the women’s high jump with a clearance of 6-8.75 on her final attempt. Lowe remained on the high jump pit for nearly a minute in tears after setting the record.


Fast forward three years later when four American records were set during the Saturday session of the 2013 U.S. Championships.


Just two weeks after setting the collegiate record in the women’s 100 hurdles record (12.39) at the NCAA Championships, Brianna Rollins ran a stunning 12.26 that left a high-quality field in her wake while demolishing the 13-year old U.S. record.


Amanda Bingson set an American record twice in the women’s hammer throw. Bingson first threw an American record on her second attempt at 245-9, quickly followed by an even better mark of 248-5 on her third. Michelle Carter had the throw of her career in the women’s shot put to add her name to the American record books. Carter’s throw of 66-5.


In all 16 Drake Stadium records, including nine in the women’s division, were set at the 2013 U.S. Outdoor Track & Field Championships.


Officials from USA Track and Field, the national governing body, visited Drake Stadium April 10 touring the facilities while meeting with representatives from Drake along with Katie Fenci, director of Des Moines Conventions, Sports & Services


“Greater Des Moines has proven to be a Sports City…and that is due to our great location, facilities and community supporting athletics,” said Fenci, who will serve as local organizing committee meet director. “Drake University has a long standing tradition in hosting great events and we are excited to once again be hosting Championship events. We look forward to introducing new athletes and fans to competition on the famous Blue Oval and welcoming back those athletes who haven’t had a chance to compete on the Blue Oval for a few years.”


Drake assistant athletic director Brady Randall, directory of athletic facility and operations said that USA Track & Field representatives came away impressed with the Drake Stadium venue.


“One of the things that the delegation from USA Track & Field pointed out was that it was refreshing to come to a facility like Drake Stadium that can host an event of this caliber since we host a big meet like the Drake Relays on an annual basis.”












Individual and all session tickets for the U.S. Outdoor Championships are on sale by contacting the Drake Athletic Ticket Office at 515-271-3647 or online at


The meet will be broadcast on the NBC family of networks and webcast on NBC Sports Gold.




Thursday, June 21

1 p.m.                         Decathlon 100

1:50 p.m.                   Women’s 3,000 steeple 1stround

1:55 p.m.                   Decathlon Long Jump

2 p.m.                         Women’s discus FINAL

2:20 p.m.                   Women’s 800 1stround

2:40 p.m.                   Men’s 800 1stround

2:55 p.m.                   Decathlon shot put

3:05 p.m.                   Men’s 400 hurdles 1stround

3:35 p.m.                   Women’s 1500 1stround

3:55 p.m.                   Men’s 1500 1stround

4:10 p.m.                   Decathlon high jump

4:20 p.m.                   Men’s Masters mile

4:40 p.m.                   Women’s 400 1stround

5 p.m.                         Women’s javelin FINAL

5:05 p.m.                   Men’s 400 1stround

5:15 p.m.                   Women’s triple jump FINAL

5:30 p.m.                   Women’s Masters 800

5:45 p.m.                   Women’s 100 1stround

6:10 p.m.                   Men’s 100 1stround

6:40 p.m.                   Decathlo 400

7 p.m.                         Women’s 10,000 FINAL

7:4 0 p.m.                  Men’s 10,000 FINAL

8:40 p.m.                   Men’s 20k Race Walk FINAL
Friday, June 22

11:30 a.m.                 Decathlon 110 hurdles

12:30 p.m.                Decathlon discus

3 p.m.                         Decathlon pole vault

3:15 p.m.                   Men’s 3000 steeple 1stround

3:20 p.m.                   Men’s Hammer throw FINAL

3:50 p.m.                   Women’s 100 hurdles 1stround

4:30 p.m.                   Decathlon javelin

4:40 p.m.                   Women’s 400 hurdles 1stround

5:10 p.m.                   Men’s 400 hurdles 1stround

5:30 p.m.                   Women’s 100 semifinals

5:30 p.m.                   Men’s triple jump FINAL

5:45 p.m.                   Decathlon javelin throw

5:50 p.m.                   Men’s 100 semifinals

6:05 p.m.                   Women’s 400 semifinals

6:20 p.m.                   Men’s 400 semifinals

6:35 p.m.                   Decathlon 1500

6:50 p.m.                   Women’s 800 semifinals

7:05 p.m.                   Men’s 800 semifinals

7:22 p.m.                   Women’s 100 FINAL

7:30 p.m.                   Men’s 100 FINAL

7:40 p.m.                   Women’s 20K Race Walk FINAL


Saturday, June 23

10 a.m.                       Heptathlon 100 hurdles

11 a.m.                       Heptathlon high jump

1:05 p.m.                   Heptathlon shot put

1:10 p.m.                   Men’s 200 1stround

1:30 p.m.                   Men’s pole vault FINAL

1:35 p.m.                   Women’s 200 1stround

2 p.m.                         Heptathlon 200

2:10 p.m.                   Men’s javelin throw FINAL

2:15 p.m.                   Women’s long jump FINAL

2:20 p.m.                   Women’s hammer throw FINAL

2:20 p.m.                   Women’s 100 hurdles semifinals

2:30 p.m.                   Women’s high jump FINAL

2:35 p.m.                   Men’s 110 hurdles 1stround

2:45 p.m.                   Men’s shot put FINAL

3:03 p.m.                   Women’s 400 hurdles semifinals

3:20 p.m.                   Women’s 3000 steeple FINAL

3:36 p.m.                   Men’s 400 hurdles FINAL

4:08 p.m.                   Women’s 400 FINAL

4:30 p.m.                   Men’s 400 FINAL

4:40 p.m.                   Men’s 1500 FINAL

4:52 p.m.                   Women’s 100 hurdles FINAL


Sunday, June 24

11:30 a.m.                 Heptathlon long jump

12:50 p.m.                Heptathlon javelin throw

1:45 p.m.                   Men’s high jump FINAL

1:48 p.m.                   Mixed 4×100 relay exhibition

1:55 p.m.                   Women’s pole vault FINAL

2 p.m.                        Men’s 200 semifinals

2:10 p.m.                   Women’s shot put FINAL

2:15 p.m.                   Women’s 200 semifinals

2:20 p.m.                   Men’s discus FINAL

2:25 p.m.                   Men’s long jump FINAL

2:30 p.m.                   Men’s 110 hurdles semifinals

2:50 p.m.                   Heptathlon 800

3:04 p.m.                   Women’s 800 FINAL

3:13 p.m.                   Men’s 800 FINAL

3:22 p.m.                   Women’s 5000 FINAL

3:44 p.m.                   Women’s 400 hurdles FINAL

3:55 p.m.                   Men’s 3000 steeple FINAL

4:10 p.m.                   Men’s 200 FINAL

4:20 p.m.                   Women’s 200 FINAL

4:30 p.m.                   Men’s 5000 FINAL

4:52 p.m.Men’s 110 hurdles FINAL

Drake state Meet

Next Level Iowa Podcast For April 17, 2018: A Little About a Lot of Things!

©Jim Kirby

©Jim Kirby

On this edition of the Next Level Iowa Podcast Mike and I talk weather, Drake Relays qualifying and talk to some of our Iowans like McKenzie Yanek-PV-Alabama, Nick Phelps and Kenzie Carney.

We look ahead to some of the qualifying meets coming up and we can barely contain ourselves as we look ahead to the best week of the year, Drake Relays Week!


Shelby Houlihan-SC EAST - ASU and Karissa Schweizer-Dowling-Mizzou
©Jim Kirby 2017

Mizzou’s Schweizer Comes Back Home For the Drake Relays

Karissa Schweizer-Dowling-Missouri ©Jim Kirby

Karissa Schweizer-Dowling-Missouri
©Jim Kirby

Karissa Schweizer, a senior on the University of Missouri track & field team, is returning to the Drake Relays presented by Hy-Vee with hopes of etching her name into the Drake Relays record book.

Courtesy Drake Relays, click here! Feature photo: Shelby Houlihan-SC EAST – ASU and Karissa Schweizer-Dowling-Mizzou©Jim Kirby 2017


The Urbandale, Iowa, native and Dowling Catholic graduate will compete in the University/College Division 5,000 meters Friday, April 26, at 7:53 p.m. The current record of 15:31.18 was set by Cathy Branta-Easker of Wisconsin in 1985, 11 years before Schweizer was born.  Schweizer owns a personal best of 15:18.69 in the event, set last summer at the USA Track & Field Championship.


“The Drake Relays holds a special place in my heart and it means the world for me to be able to come back to race in my hometown,” Schweizer said. “If I were able to set a record at this year’s Relays, it would be the cherry on top to a long career of running on the Blue Oval!”


Schweizer has won five total NCAA Championships at Missouri including indoor titles in the 3,000 and 5,000 meters this season. The budding star competed in the elite invitational section of the 1,500 meters at the 2017 Drake Relays presented by Hy-Vee and finished eighth in a race that featured 11 professional runners and six Olympians.


“For generations, the Drake Relays has helped cultivate and provide a showcase for the best talent in the state of Iowa,” said Blake Boldon, the Franklin P. Johnson Director of the Drake Relays. “Karissa is one of those talented athletes that our fans have watched grow up before their eyes on the Blue Oval. She’s made history at Missouri and we’re honored that her final race as a collegian at Drake Stadium has the potential to be a record-setting performance. Fans that have supported Karissa and anyone who enjoys watching Iowans make history won’t want to miss Thursday night at the Drake Relays.”


All-session, multi-session and single-session tickets are currently on sale via the Drake Athletic Ticket Office and

Ryan Crouser-Texas, Ricky Robertson-Mississippi, Erik Olson-Drake
©Jim Kirby 2018

Gold Medalist Crouser Leads World’s Best Again at Drake Relays

Ryan Crouser-Texas-Olympic Gold Medalist ©Jim Kirby 2018

Ryan Crouser-Texas-Olympic Gold Medalist
©Jim Kirby 2018

The return of the men’s invitational shot put to Drake Stadium will feature some of the world’s top throwers inside the Blue Oval for the 109th Drake Relays presented by Hy-Vee.

Courtesy Drake Relays, click here! Feature photo: Ryan Crouser-Texas, Ricky Robertson-Mississippi, Erik Olson-Drake©Jim Kirby 2018

The nine-man field features the reigning Olympic gold and bronze medalists, the current World Champion, the Olympic record holder, the top two finishers in this week’s Commonwealth Games, plus the Drake Stadium record holder. Two of the competitors are also ranked among the top-10 all-time in the event and aiming to shatter the world record this season.

Ryan Crouser returns Des Moines after entertaining the crowd during a slam dunk competition during a Drake men’s basketball game in January along with other elite athletes. Crouser was a gold medalist at the 2016 Olympics with an Olympic-record throw of 73-10.5 (22.51m). The two-time USA Outdoor Champion owns a personal best of 74-3.75 (22.65m), which ranks as the eighth-best mark all-time in the event.

New Zealand’s Tom Walsh is another standout coming to Drake Stadium with the world record in his sights this season. The 2017 World Champion and 2016 Olympic bronze medalist, Walsh ranks sixth all-time in the shot put with a personal best of 74-4.5 (22.67m). He has broken the 21-meter mark a staggering 48 times in his career and will certainly push the elite field and test the Drake Relays record. He recently won the event at the Commonwealth Games in Australia.

Ryan Whiting is the current U.S. indoor champion and a six-time World Championship finalist as well as a 2012 Olympic finalist. Whiting owns the current Drake Stadium record at 72-6.5 (22.11m) and has a personal best of 73-1.25 (22-28m) which ranks as the 16th-best mark all-time. He was a five-time NCAA champion at Arizona State and is one of three former NCAA Champions in the field that have combined to claim a total of 10 NCAA titles.

Another Olympian, Darrell Hill, joins the field after finishing sixth at the recent World Indoor Championship. He was also a 2017 World Outdoor Championship finalist followed by a Diamond League win in Brussels. He ranks 14th all-time in the shot put with a mark of 73-7.5 (22.44m).

A quintet of up-and-coming athletes who are more than familiar with the Blue Oval is poised to use the Drake Relays presented by Hy-Vee as their platform to compete with and become the next generation of elite throwers. Josh Freeman, a four-time All-American and seven-time MVC Champion at SIU, is one those talents, as is Jon Jones, the 2015 NCAA Champion in the event while at Buffalo.

Chuk Enekwechi already has a Relays title to his credit in the hammer throw while competing for Purdue in 2015 and he has twice qualified for the World Championships in the shot put for his native Nigeria. This week he finished second in the shot put at the Commonwealth Games behind Tom Walsh.
JC Muransky also has a Relays title on his resume from 2016 in the shot put while at Ohio State and also qualified for the 2017 USA Championship. Alex Renner, an All-American and five-time Summit League champion at North Dakota State, returns to the Drake Relays after recently claiming eighth at the 2018 USA Indoor Championships.

The nine men will step inside the ring at Drake Stadium at 2:30 Saturday, April 28, in the final field event of the 2018 Drake Relays Presented by Hy-Vee. All-session, multi-session and single-session tickets are currently on sale via the Drake Athletic Ticket Office and

Chloe Hansen JR Harlan_MB1_9202-1

High School Athletes Who Have Made the Blue Standard Updated 4-7-18

Madison Jochum Heelan ©Mike Brynes 2018

Madison Jochum Heelan
©Mike Brynes 2018

Feature Photo: Chloe Hansen-Harlan@Mike Brynes 2017


Here are the latest lists for those high school athletes making the Blue Standard so far this track season.

*Bold Indicates New Standards


Kitra Bell                  IC West                     Long Jump               17’11”

Sydney Durbin.       OABCIG.                  High Jump.               5’5″

Ellie Friesen.            Crestwood.                800m.                     2:14.91

Ellie Friesen             Crestwood               1500m                      4:43.26  

Ellie Friesen             Crestwood               3000m                      10:06.08

Kiestern Fisher       SE Valley                  High Jump                5’5”

Maria Gorham        N. Polk                      High Jump               5’5″

Lea Grady.           Cent. Dav.                    Discus                       134’11”

Chandler Haight.      IC West.         Shot                          42’8″

Anna Hostetler          Mid Prairie               3000m                    10:06.84

Marie Hostetler         Mid Prairie               3000m                    10:24.17

Isabelle Ingram      Ames                     100H                     14:67

Jamie Kofron               Tipton                      Shot                        42’11.5″

Linn Mar                                                    SMR                        1:44.90

Jessica McKee          Johnston               3000m                   10:27.97

Kat Moody.                   Waukee               Shot                        43’9″

Kat Moody                     Waukee               Discus                   130’10”

Olivia Nebergall         Anamosa             High Jump            5’5″

Bailey Nock             IC West                     1500m                      4:46.17

Bailey Nock             IC West                     3000m                      10:26.78

Pella                                                        4x100m                  50.68

Skyler Presier         Linn Mar                    High Jump                5’5”

SE Polk                                                          4×4                             3:59.46

SE Polk                                                      4×800                      9:33.55

Wahlert                                                    4x100m                      50.33

Waukee                                                    SHR                              1:05.25

Waukee                                                     SMR                              1:44.80

Waukee                                                      4x100m                       50.24

Sydney Winger         Waukee               100H                             14.40



Ames                                                      4x100m                     43.31

Ank. Centennial                                 4x100m                      43.79

Myles Bach              CP-U                           3200m                         9:29.29

Beckman                                                 4x100m                    43.60

Grant Bouwer.     Sibley Ocheyden.        High Jump                   6’6.75″

Jaelen Boysen      Clinton                  Long Jump              22’5.5″

Blair Brooks             Marion                     High Jump                   6’6”

Camden Cox            Ank Cent                  1600m                        4:22.44

Camden Cox        Ank Cent                3200m                     9:31

CR Jefferson                                          4x100m.                    42.92

Dominic Etherington    Algona                 Shot Put                       57’5″

Jackson Fisher         Chariton             High Jump             6’6″

Max Goodhue             Carlisle          Long Jump.               22’6.5″

Braeden Hoyer                Northeast         High Jump                    6’8”

Keith Keahna                     S. Tama           High Jump                     6’6”

Owen Minshall                  Waukee             High Jump                    6’6”

Riley Moss                        Ank Centennial         110H                      14.38

Mt. Pleasant.                                                       SHR.                       57:73

Nick Phelps                      KP-WC                      Shot                       66’0.75”

Nick Phelps                      KP-WC                    Discus                        181’2″

Cole Schroeder                Dowling                    3200m                      9:33.36

SE Polk                                                        4x100m                    43.47

Urbandale                                                    1600m Medley       3:32.5

Waukee                                                           4x100m                   43.74




Jenny Simpson-Webster City-Colorado
©Jim Kirby

Drake Relays Announcement: Olympic Medalist Jenny Simpson

Jenny Simpson-Webster City-Colorado ©Paul Merca 2017

Jenny Simpson-Webster City-Colorado
©Paul Merca 2017

Five-time Drake Relays champion Jenny Simpson returns to the Blue Oval to challenge the American outdoor 2-mile record as part of Hy-Vee Night at the Drake Relays, Blake Boldon, the Franklin P. Johnson Director of the Drake Relays, announced Tuesday, April 3. Boldon also unveiled world-class competitors in the pole vault and high jump inside Drake Stadium for what has the potential to be a historic night of track & field action.

Courtesy Drake Relays, click here!  Feature photo: Jenny Simpson-Webster City-Colorado ©Jim Kirby

Simpson, the Drake Relays presented by Hy-Vee reigning 1,500-meter champion and Olympic bronze medalist, will challenge the American record of 9:20.25 in the two-mile race Friday, April 27, under the lights at Drake Stadium.

“I’m so excited to be returning to Iowa again this year to compete in my first outdoor race of 2018 at the Drake Relays,” Simpson said. “I’ve had so many special runs on the Blue Oval including collegiate and stadium records and this year records are on my mind again. I’ll be returning to the Drake Relays to challenge the outdoor 2-mile American Record. Runs like this are never easy or predictable but I’m excited to face the challenge in front of fans who have cheered me on to great runs in the past.”

Simpson will try to better the current record of 9:20.25 set by Shannon Rowbury in 2014.

Last year, Simpson won her fifth-straight race at the Drake Relays presented by Hy-Vee with her 1,500-meter win as she held off rival Brenda Martinez. Martinez returns to the Relays to challenge Simpson again. Upstart Alexa Efraimson, who owns the American junior record in the 1,500 meters (4:03.39) and the national high school record in the 3,000 meters (9:00.16) joins the veteran laden field racing toward an American national record.

Another Olympic medalist and Drake Relays champion headlines the men’s pole vault field. Sam Kendricks was the 2016 Olympic bronze medalist and 2017 World Champion in the event he also won at 2017 Drake Relays presented by Hy-Vee. He is just one of 22 men in the history of the sport to clear six meters (19-8).

“I love to start the year off on home soil! Drake Stadium will bring out the best in all of us!” Kendricks said to announce his return to Des Moines.

Kendricks isn’t the only elite vaulter set to compete at Hy-Vee Night at the Drake Relays. Another member of the 6-meter club and the 2015 World Champion, Shawn Barber, will go jump for jump against Kendricks. Barber is the Canadian record holder in the event and the 2015 and 2016 Drake Relays champion. Scott Houston, the 2018 American indoor champion is also in the field.

The women’s high jump will feature another standout field headlined by Vashti Cunningham who has won four USA Championships at just 20 years old. Cunningham, the daughter of former NFL quarterback Randall Cunningham, competed at the Drake Relays in 2016 as a high-school phenom and has since won a world indoor title and represented the USA in the 2016 Olympics. She owns a personal best of 6-6.25 (1.99m) in the event, an American junior record.

However, Cunningham won’t have an easy route to another Drake Relays title. The 2017 Drake Relays champion Levern Spencer returns to Des Moines. The Olympian own the St. Lucian national record in the event at 6-6 (1.98m). Another national record holder, Doreen Amata, will make her Drake Relays debut in 2018. The Nigerian record holder in the event, Amata is a two-time Olympian and served as Nigeria’s flag bearer for the closing ceremonies of the 2016 Olympics. Canadian Alyx Treasure is another Olympian set to push the field in what has the makings of another outstanding competition at Drake Stadium.

All-session, multi-session and single-session tickets are currently on sale to witness all three of these events at Drake Stadium, including the potential setting of an American record. Visit to secure tickets to what has the promise to be a historic night at Drake Stadium.

Andre De Grasse-USC
©Frank Gunn/CP

Drake Relays Announcement: Olympian Medalist Andre De Grasse

Andre De Grasse-USC ©Cameron Spencer/Getty Images South America

Andre De Grasse-USC
©Cameron Spencer/Getty Images South America

The most exciting 10 seconds in track & field will live up its billing at Drake Stadium when the men’s invitational 100 meters makes its return to the Drake Relays presented by Hy-Vee.

Courtesy Drake Relays, click here! Feature photo: Andre De Grasse-USC ©Frank Gunn/CP

Blake Boldon, the Franklin P. Johnson Director of the Drake Relays, has announced the full field for the event that will be headlined by Canadian Olympic medalist Andre De Grasse. However, De Grasse is just one of five Olympians in the eight-competitor field that will race down the homestretch of the Blue Oval April 28 at 2:56 p.m. Six of the event’s eight lanes will feature competitors has shattered the 10-second mark in the event.

In 2016, De Grasse won three medals at the Rio Olympics, including bronze in the 100 meters behind Usain Bolt. With Bolt’s retirement, De Grasse is thought by many in the track and field community to be the heir apparent to the title ‘World’s Fastest Man.’

In addition to that bronze medal in the 100 meters, De Grasse won silver in the 200 meters behind Bolt and bronze in the 4×100-meter relay as a member of the Canadian team. He has run the 100 meters in 10 seconds or less in a legal wind nine times in his career, including a personal best of 9.91 and has run as fast as 9.69 with a tailwind. De Grasse’s Blue Oval debut marks the first time an invitational 100 meters has been staged at the Drake Relays presented by Hy-Vee since 2005.

Joining the cadre of elite sprinters is a local favorite that had a storied career at Drake Stadium as a collegian. Brandon Carnes, a two-time Relays champion in the event as a collegian at UNI, will race as a professional for the first time at Drake Stadium. The 16-time Missouri Valley Conference champion owns a personal best of 10.06.

Another competitor who made his mark a collegian returns as an experienced professional in Isiah Young. Young was an Olympic semifinalist in the 200 meters in 2012 and has been a member of three World Championship teams for the United States. While competing for the University of Mississippi, Young was a four-time Drake Relays champion and back-to-back winner of the 100 meters in 2012 and 2013. The second of those titles earned him Drake Relays Most Outstanding Performer honors and is one of three collegiate competitors to win the honor outright in the last decade.

Mike Rodgers is one of the veterans in the field that has run a sub 10-second 100 meters a staggering 39 times in his career and owns the 14th fastest time in the history of the event at 9.85. He has been a five-time World Championship semifinalist and led off the USA’s 4×100-meter relay in the 2016 Olympics.

Jarrion Lawson, the 2017 World Championship silver medalist in the long jump, also makes his pro debut at Drake Stadium after winning four events at the 2016 NCAA Champion to become the first athlete to win a national title in the 100 meters, 200 meters, long jump and 4×100-meter relay since Jesse Owens.

BeeJay Lee completes the corps of Americans in the event and is another runner that has bested the 10-second mark with a personal best of 9.97.

Joining De Grasse among the international talent in the event is Turkey’s national record holder, Jak Ali Harvey. Harvey was the 2016 European Championship silver medalist in the event and finished seventh in the 2017 World Championship. With a personal best of 9.92, he qualified for the 2016 Olympics in the 100 meters, 200 meters and 4×100-meter relay.

Kemar Hyman’s 9.95 best in the event makes him the national record holder for the Cayman Islands and he has twice represented his country in the Olympics and has experience on the Blue Oval while winning an NCAA Championship for Florida at Drake Stadium.

Thursday’s announcement of the 100-meter field brings the total number of Olympians set to compete at the Drake Relays presented by Hy-Vee to 16 to date with dozens more to be announced in the coming weeks.

All-session, multi-session and single-session tickets are currently on sale via the Drake Athletic Ticket Office and

Jenny Simpson-Webster City-Colorado 
©Jim Kirby 2017

Next Level Iowa Podcast: Drake Relays Announcements From Blake Boldon


Jenny Simpson and Mike Mahon ©Jim Kirby-2013

Jenny Simpson and Mike Mahon
©Jim Kirby-2013

Feature photo: Jenny Simpson-Webster City-Colorado ©Jim Kirby 2017

On this edition of the Next Level Iowa Podcast Blake Boldon announces more elite track and field entries for this year’s Drake Relays!  Listen to the show and hear all about the latest Drake Relays Announcements!

We also talk about last week’s big Stanford meet, check in with Ryan Murphy-Lin Mar-Arkansas after his 10k debut and a whole lot more!

All this on this week’s Next Level Iowa Podcast!