Karissa Schweizer-Dowling-Bowerman and Shelby Houlihan-SC East-Bowerman
©Jim Kirby 2019

6 Defending Champs Among 61 Drake Relays Alumni at World Track & Field Championships

Hillary Bor-ISU ©Jim Kirby 2019

Hillary Bor-ISU
©Jim Kirby 2019

Reigning World champions Kori Carter, Sam Kendricks, Brittney Reese, Katerina Stefanidi and Christian Taylor headline a list of 61 Drake Relays alumni who will compete in the 17th IAAF World Championships that start this Friday, running through Oct. 6 in Doha, Qatar.

By Mike Mahon. Feature photo: Karissa Schweizer-Dowling-Bowerman and Shelby Houlihan-SC East-Bowerman©Jim Kirby 2019



One can only look back at the athletes who competed at the 2019 Drake Relays as further evidence that director Blake Boldon has built America’s Athletic Classic into allowing loyal fans to see the world’s greatest track and field athletes.


Thirty-three of athletes who performed in the 110th running of the Drake Relays this past April 24-27 will be at the World Championships. Kendricks, Jenn Suhr, and Ryan Crouser, who are current 2019 world leaders in their specialties, have competed at each of the past two Drake Relays.


Kendricks is bidding to become just the second athlete ever to win a second men’s pole vault title in the World Championships, joining Sergey Bubka, who won six titles between 1983 and 1997.  Kendricks set an American record of 19 feet 10 ½ inches at Drake Stadium during the USA Championships July 28 – the second highest mark ever achieved outdoors in world history.


Carter, who won the women’s invitational 400 hurdles at the 2019 Drake Relays, is back to defend her World Championships title in the women’s 400 hurdles.


Reese, who won a gold medal in the 2012 Olympics and captured Drake Relays titles in 2007 and 2013, will seek an unprecedented fifth career world title in the women’s long jump (2009, 2011, 2013, 2017).


Taylor, who won gold medals in the men’s triple jump at the 2012 and 2016 Olympics, is seeking his fourth World Championships title with previous crowns in 2011, 2015 and 2017.


Taylor, who captured the men’s triple jump at the 2017 Drake Relays, is one of five gold medalists from the 2016 Rio De Janiero Olympics, who have competed at the Drake Relays and will represent Team USA at the World Championships.


Stefanidi from Greece, who earned the 2016 Olympic gold medal, is the reigning women’s World Outdoor champ in the women’s pole vault. She won the 2015 Drake Relays women’s invitational pole vault crown.


Other 2016 Olympic gold medalists on Team USA include Carter; Crouser, men’s shot put; Brianna McNeal, women’s 100 hurdles; and Matthew Centrowitz, men’s 1,500.


If that’s not enough Suhr, who won Drake Relays women’s pole vault titles in 2012 and 2018, captured the gold medal at the 2012 Olympics.


Four-time defending Drake Relays champ Sandi Morris should challenge Stefanidi and Suhr for the women’s pole vault title. She earned a silver medal in the 2016 Olympics as well as the 2017 World Championships.


Renaud Lavillenie from France, the 2012 Olympic gold medalist, will challenge Kendricks in the men’s pole vault. He won the 2014 Drake Relays invitational title.


Dalilah Muhammad, who set a world record in the women’s 400 hurdles (52.20) at the Drake Stadium during the USA Championships July 28, also will compete at the World Championships. She placed second in the 400 hurdles at the 2016 and 2018 Drake Relays.


The 2019 Drake Relays women’s invitational 100 hurdles saw six of the eight athletes who competed advance to the World Championships led by winner Keni Harrison, the reigning world record holder in the event. Canada’s Phylicia George, Nigeria’s Tobi Amusan, Nia Alifrom the U.S. and Cindy Ofili from Great Britain, who finished third through sixth, respectively, also will run in the World Championships along with Pedyra Seymour from the Bahamas who was disqualified at Drake because of a false start.


The Drake Relays women’s high jump field featured six athletes who will be performing in the World Championships including Inika McPherson, Team USA; Lavern Spencer, Saint Lucia; Erika Kinsey, Sweden and Marusa Cernjul from Slovenia.


But 2018 Drake Relays champ Vashti Cunningham, the 2016 world indoor champion, ranks among the favorite in the women’s high jump.



11 Athletes With Iowa Ties Performing

There are 11 athletes competing that have strong Iowa ties led by the women’s trio of three-time Olympian Jenny Simpson (Webster City), 2016 Olympian Shelby Houlihan (Sioux City) and former West Des Moines Dowling Catholic prep standout Karissa Schweizer.


Houlihan clipped Simpson to win her second straight USA Outdoor title at Drake Stadium July 27. Houlihan was a major force in 2018 internationally, running a personal best of 3:57.34, but this year she has opted to only compete domestically, although she remains a genuine threat.


Her compatriot, Simpson, has proved an adept championship specialist having snared 2011 world gold and silver medals at both the 2013 and 2017, respectively.
Schweizer will compete in her first World Championships, running in the women’s 5000.


Kenny Bednarek, who opened eyes by winning the 2019 Drake Relays invitational men’s 200 while competing for Indian Hills Community College, could be a surprise in the sprints. He owns the fourth fastest time in the world this year of 19.82 seconds.


Iowa State graduate Hillary Bor, a 2016 Olympian, looks to be a force in the men’s 3000 steeplechase after capturing the USA Outdoor title at Drake Stadium July 28.


The University of Iowa will be represented by Brittany Brown, an 11-time NCAA All-American from 2014-18, who won the 200 at the 2019 USA Championships; along with senior Laulauga Tausaga in the women’s discus – an event in which she captured the 2019 NCAA title.


Tiny Iowa Central Community College has three former runners who will performer in the World Championships including Adva Cohen who will represent Israel in the women’s 3000 steeplechase. Cohen set a Drake Relays record en route to winning the women’s steeplechase title in 2018 while running for Iowa Central.


The most decorated athlete in World Championships history, Allyson Felix will likely see relay duty for Team USA’ women and will be looking to add to her record tally of 16 medals, 11 of them gold, in eight appearances. Felix ran in the 2006 Drake Relays.


This is the latest the World Championships has been held since the meet was created in 1983, and the latest global championship since the 2000 Olympic Games in Sydney Australia.


The 2019 IAAF World Championships will be broadcast and streamed with more than 60 hours of competition coverage from Doha, Qatar available in the U.S. on NBC, NBC Sports Network and Olympic Channel,



Here is link to official website:



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

Iowans In Doha!

Karissa Schweizer-Dowling-Mizzou greats her fans in  in Heusden-Zolder, Belgium  ©Jim Kirby 2018

Karissa Schweizer-Dowling-Mizzou greats her fans in in Heusden-Zolder, Belgium
©Jim Kirby 2018

Many of you were in Drake Stadium in late July, for the USATF Outdoor Championships, to witness outstanding performances from many of the World’s Best Track and Field athletes.

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

Now the time has come for those athletes to compete in the World Championships in Doha, Qatar.
Competition on the track and in the field will take place Friday September 27 thru Sunday October 6.

Shelby Houlihan -SC East-ASU © Michael Scott 2016, www.miscottrunningphoto.shutterfly.com

Shelby Houlihan -SC East-ASU
© Michael Scott 2016, www.miscottrunningphoto.shutterfly.com

Here is the link to all meet info:

  • Iowans and Iowa connections competing in Doha for the US are:
  • Kenny Bednarek-Indian Hills C C-200M
  • Brittany Brown-U of Iowa-200M
  • Shelby Houlihan-Sioux City East-1500M
  • Jenny Simpson-Webster City-1500M
  • Karissa Schweizer-Dowling Catholic-5,000M

    Jenny Simpson-Webster City-Colorado ©Paul Merca 2017

    Jenny Simpson-Webster City-Colorado
    ©Paul Merca 2017

  • Lagi Tausaga-U of Iowa-Discus
  • Brian Williams-Iowa Central C C-Discus
  • Onal Mitchell, a freshman at UNI will compete on the 4×100 relay for Trinidad and Tobago


Your link to great stories and TV information:

Loras Men's Cross Country
©Duhawks Athletics 2019

Duhawks’ Men Ranked High Regionally

Coach Bob Schultz-Loras ©Jim Kirby 2017

Coach Bob Schultz-Loras
©Jim Kirby 2017

In the first installment of weekly rankings released by the United States Track and Field and Cross Country Coaches Association (USTFCCCA), the Loras College men’s cross country team is ranked fifth in the Central Region.

Courtesy Emily Zadny/Duhawks Athletics, click here! Feature photo: Loras Men’s Cross Country©Duhawks Athletics 2019

The Duhawks maintained their position from the preseason rankings released on Aug. 27 before winning the Kohawk Invitational, hosted by Coe College, on Aug. 30. Luke Guttormson was the top finisher for Loras, taking the individual title in the 5,000-meter race with a time of 15:55. The Duhawks placed all five scoring runners in the top ten to win with 23 team points.

American Rivers Conference (A-R-C) foe Wartburg College is the top ranked team in the region, followed by Carleton College in second and St. Olaf College in third. Ahead of the Duhawks is St. Thomas University (Minn.) in fourth while conference rival Luther College is ranked sixth and Gustavus Adolphus College is seventh. The final A-R-C team in the top-ten is Simpson College, ranking eighth, while St. Scholastica University and Saint John’s University (Minn.) are ninth and tenth, respectively.

The Duhawks travel to Indiana for the National Catholic Championship, hosted by the University of Notre Dame, on Friday, Sept. 20. Race time is set for 3:30 p.m.

High school cross country generic

Cross Country Update Week 5!

Erin Kerkoff-Solon High School

Erin Kerkoff-Solon High School

There has been plenty of heat and humidity in Iowa this week, but if the extended forecast holds true, we will see more Fall like conditions, soon, in the days to come.

Despite Mother Nature’s desire to turn up the burners, there have been some outstanding high school meets this week, with more to come.

The 39thBallard Invitational was as good as predicted.   In the Class A portion, Carlisle Boys edged out Norwalk for the title, 64-65 and for the A Girls, it was Ballard holding off DC-G 44-47. Nodaway Valley was the Boys B division winner while North Polk won the B girls.  In total 47 complete teams took part in one of the biggest meets of the year.

Here is the link to Ballard results: https://www.iowarunjumpthrow.com/wp-content/uploads/2019/09/Ballard-9-16.pdf

Here is the link to other HS XC results for this week:https://www.iowarunjumpthrow.com/2019-week-4-results/

HS Team rankings link:https://www.iowarunjumpthrow.com/cross-country/cross-country-results-rankings/2019-team-rankings/2019-week-3-team-rankings/

HS Individual rankings link:https://www.iowarunjumpthrow.com/cross-country/cross-country-results-rankings/2019-individual-rankings/

There are a number of college meets taking place this weekend that will involve Iowa teams.

The Yellowjacket Open at Graceland: http://www.gujackets.com/sport/0/4.php

Running of the Cows at Carleton: https://athletics.carleton.edu/sports/womens-cross-country

John McNichols Invitational- https://gosycamores.com/documents/2019/5/21//JM_Competing_Teams_5_20_19.pdf?id=5681

Woody Greeno/Jay Dirksen Invitational: https://huskers.com/index.aspx?path=cross

Bradley Intercollegiate- https://bradleybraves.com/sports/2011/8/30/205263915.aspx


High school girls generic

Cross Country Update: Week 3

Megan Schott-Roosevelt-Iowa  ©Brian Ray 2018

Megan Schott-Roosevelt-Iowa
©Brian Ray 2018

Thus far, this week in XC in Iowa has been a bit of a rocky one.  Some high school and college meets were successfully held early in the week, a fair number of HS meets were canceled or postponed Thursday evening because of inclement weather, and a number of meets will take place around the state Saturday.

Catch up on Iowa HS XC results and rankings here:


The University of Iowa hosted the Hawkeye Invitational last Friday September 6, with Iowa, Iowa State, Drake, Stephens College, Iowa Central, Hawkeye CC, Illinois State and UNI Women racing 4K and Iowa, Drake, UNI, Hawkeye CC, Iowa Central and Illinois State racing 6K at Iowa’s Ashton Course.  There were many former Iowa preps competing, including former Waverly Shell Rock prep Abby Caldwell, now of Iowa State, who won the individual title.

Iowa Men and Women swept the team titles.

Men Individual results: https://results.wayzatatiming.com/meets/4198/xc-events/170927/results

Men’s Team results: https://results.wayzatatiming.com/meets/4198/xc-events/170927/scores

Women’s Individual results: https://results.wayzatatiming.com/meets/4198/xc-events/170928/results

Women’s Team results: https://results.wayzatatiming.com/meets/4198/xc-events/170928/scores

There were also many Iowans competing in Wartburg’s John Kurtt Fall Invite: https://go-knights.net/news/2019/9/7/mens-cross-country-wartburg-wins-john-kurtt-fall-invite.aspx

Meets involving Iowa Colleges and Universities this weekend:

Illinois State Invitational-https://goredbirds.com/news/2019/9/12/redbird-cross-country-hosts-7th-annual-illinois-state-invite-friday.aspx

Les Duke Invitational-https://pioneers.grinnell.edu/sports/2012/4/17/MXC_0417124140.aspx?path=mcross

Luther All American-https://www.luther.edu/sports/men/cross-country/all-american/

South Dakota State Classic-https://gojacks.com/schedule.aspx?path=mcross

Simpson Women's XC Kyli Orr-Mt Vernon Lisbon, Emily Buchheit-Dub. Hemp, Katie Murano-DCG, Sophie Hall-DM Roosevelt and Audrey Klein-DM Lincoln 

Cross Country For Week Two

Trey Thompson-Ogden-Simpson, the Bill Buxton overall men's winner ©Jkirby2019

Trey Thompson-Ogden-Simpson, the Bill Buxton overall men’s winner

We are nearing the end of another week of the Cross Country season and we could not have asked for better early season weather or competition.

Feature photo: Simpson Women’s XC Kyli Orr-Mt Vernon Lisbon, Emily Buchheit-Dub. Hemp, Katie Murano-DCG, Sophie Hall-DM Roosevelt and Audrey Klein-DM Lincoln ©Jkirby2019


The Simpson Cross Country teams swept their home meet, the Bill Buxton Invitational.  The men were led by former South Central Calhoun prep, freshman Spencer Moon, who finished second in the 6K in 19:34.2.  The Storm’s top 7 were all former Iowa preps.

On the women’s side, the Storm finished first out of 8 teams.   While Simpson alum, Courtney Neuendorf-SE Polk-Simpson battled for the women’s victory, Audrey Klein-DM Lincoln led a tightly-packed group of Simpson runners who occupied places 2-8. Overall women’s champion Neuendorf’s 5K time was 16:34.  The Simpson women’s top 7, also were former Iowa preps. Bill Buxton results click here!

Another meet with lots of former Iowa preps was the 26thAnnual Mustang Gallop, hosted by Mount Mercy in Cedar Rapids.    http://www.mountmercymustangs.com/article/2429.php




Monday, August 26 was the first day Iowa high school teams could compete in a meet and many meets were held in Week # 1.   All meet results and rankings are available for your viewing at:


Week 2 will be even busier for Cross Country teams in all divisions, high school through D1, in Iowa.

The University of Iowa will host the Hawkeye Invitational at their Ashton XC Course, on Friday September 6.  Women will run 4K at 6:00 and Men will run 6K at 6:45.

Many former Iowa preps will be competing as several of the teams entered feature Iowans on their rosters. Teams entered are: Iowa, Iowa State (women only) Drake, UNI, Iowa Central, Hawkeye Community, Illinois State, Creighton and Stephens College (women only).

Central will host the Dutch Invitational on Friday the 6thas well while Wartburg hosts the John Kurtt Fall Invite on Saturday the 7th.

Other American Rivers Conference schools will compete at Augustana SD and/or the St. Mary’s University Open.

Most all schools from the GPAC will also take part in the Augustana SD Twilight.

Mike Jay

Happy Birthday Mike!

Mike Jay

Mike Jay

Mike Jay is 29 years old today! Checking the NCAA Clearinghouse, we believe he may have some collegiate eligibility left. Several D1 schools are investigating, and are prepared to offer Mike full-ride scholarships!

Happy Birthday Mike! Continue to grace the blue oval, all tracks and xc courses forever!

Jessica Heims-CR Prairie-USA
©Panthers Athletics

Heims Set to Compete at Parapan America Games

Jessica Heims-CR Prairie-USA Olympian and Mike Jay

Jessica Heims-CR Prairie-USA Olympian and Mike Jay

Junior UNI track and field athlete Jessica Heims is set to represent Team USA in the Parapan America Games at the Athletics Stadium in Lima. She will try to improve on her classification world record discus throw of 34.18 meters from the outdoor track season and capture gold for the red, white and blue.

Courtesy of Panthers Athletic, click here! Feature photo: Jessica Heims-CR Prairie-USA ©Panthers Athletics 2019

The event will be her second international event of the year after capturing three golds at the Para Athletics Grand Prix in Grosseto, Italy, in June.

She competed in the 100-meter run, the 200-meter run and the discus in Italy, but in Peru, she will focus on the discus.

Heims will face stiff competition in Cuba’s Noraivis De Las Heras who finished third in the discus in the Rio Paralympic Games in 2016 with a throw of 32.47 meters.

Heims’ f64 classification is scheduled to compete at 5:02 p.m. CT. There will be live stream whip-around coverage of the meet on the streaming page and results are available on the website.

Iowa Cross Country Course
©Jim Kirby

XC Welcome 2019!

Simpson Men's Cross Country ©Jim Kirby

Simpson Men’s Cross Country
©Jim Kirby

The 2019 Track and Field season has concluded (except for the World Championships in Doha, September 27-October 6), so let Fall officially begin!

A new favorite time of year is upon us.  A new season.   CROSS COUNTRY season is here!

Successful cross-country coaches and athletes will tell you that the cross country season actually begins in the summer with long easy miles; building the base and preparing yourself for the competitive part of the season that lies ahead.

In addition to miles run the little things are, at least, equally important.

Athletes, are you getting enough sleep?  Are you eating and hydrating properly?  Are you prepared and committed to be a good student?   Poor study habits and lack of commitment in the classroom can lead to ineligibility which will keep you from competing, regardless of how many miles you put in over the summer.

In addition, are you committed to be a good leader?  A good teammate?  Are you coachable?

Coaches are you prepared? Did you attend any clinics in the off season?  Do you network with other coaches?  Do you actively recruit in the halls and PE classes in search of that young person who could help your team or simply benefit from being involved in our great sport?

Remember, miles are important, but it is really the little things that will set you apart from the competition.  If you have not  committed to the things listed above, today is the day to do so.

Here are some important dates for you to know:

August 26-1stcompetition date for Iowa HS XC

October 24-State Qualifying meets

October 26-NSIC Championships

November 2-Iowa HS state meet at Lakeside Municipal Golf Course in Fort Dodge

November 2-American Rivers Conference, B12, MVC, Midwest Conference, SLIAC Championships

November 3-B10 Championships

November 8-North Star Athletic Assoc. Championships

November 9- CCAC Championships, GPAC Championships and HAAC Championships

November 9-D2 Regionals

November 15-D1 Regionals

November 16-D3 Regionals

November 22-NAIA Championships

November 23-D1, D2 and D3 Championships




Shelby Houlihan -SC East-ASU
© Michael Scott 2016, www.miscottrunningphoto.shutterfly.com

Catching Up With Shelby Houlihan

Shelby Houlihan -SC East-ASU
© Michael Scott 2016, www.miscottrunningphoto.shutterfly.com
© Michael Scott 2016, www.miscottrunningphoto.shutterfly.com

© Michael Scott 2016, www.miscottrunningphoto.shutterfly.com

With the USATF Nationals coming up later this month, we caught up with Shelby Houlihan training in Utah.  Last week Shelby broke 2:00 in the 800m, which puts her with Shanon Rowbury in the only two Americans who Ran under 15:00 for the 5K, under 4:00 in the 1500m and now sub 2:00 in the 800m.

We talk with Shelby about her latest 800m and about her future plans for Nationals and the rest of the year.