Drake Relays News
Imagine 50 years of head shakes and eye rolls from athletes. Or 50 years of calls questioned by coaches.
Imagine 50 years of overbearing parents screaming insults.
For Jim Patterson of Cedar Rapids, it’s been 50 fantastic years.
Courtesy The Gazette www.thegazette.com by J.R. Ogden, click here! Feature photo: Jim Patterson-Drake Official ©Rebecca F. Miller/The Gazette
“I’ve enjoyed it all,” said Patterson, one of 11 men honored for a half century of service at the IHSAA’s 23rd annual Officials Recognition Banquet and Awards Ceremony at the Iowa Events Center.
Patterson officiated football for 37 years, landing nine state championship games. He still considers himself a football official first, even though he’s been working track and field meets for 40 years — and still working them today.
“My time to retire is getting closer,” he said last week while driving to Des Moines to work the Drake Relays.
He said he’s worked with and met some great people over the years — coaches and other officials.
But it’s the athletes who keep him working.
“I love being around kids,” he said. “It keeps you young.”
Not surprisingly, he’s seen lots of changes, too. He said athletes are bigger, stronger and faster. The way games are officiated are different, too. When he started working football, three officials called the game. When he retired in 2004, there were five. There now are two starters at all track meets.
But some things haven’t changed.
“The kids are the same, the coaches are the same,” he said. “(The coaches) are people who want to win, people who care about the kids.”
And those parents? Patterson hesitated when asked, then referred to an article in last week’s Gazette by correspondent and youth sports advocate Nancy Justis that, basically, told parents to “simmer down.”
“That was very to the point,” he said, adding “I’ve always been very big on sportsmanship.
“We have become too specialized. We don’t give kids a chance to become creative” in a variety of sports.
He’s seen some of the best athletes in Eastern Iowa, too, and worked some great games. He noted an Iowa City High-Bettendorf football playoff game when Tim Dwight was leading the Little Hawks and noted “any time you get a chance to work a state championship game, that’s a big highlight.”
But one of his favorite events is Cedar Rapids Kennedy’s annual coed track and field meet, now known as the Draxton-Stiers/Wilkinson Invitational after coaches Dudley Draxton, Al Stiers and Harold Wilkinson.
“Three great people,” Patterson said. “They meant a lot to me.”
Patterson, too, has meant a lot to a lot of people.
In addition to his officiating, he was a physical education teacher at Coolidge Elementary and “coached everything” at Taft Middle School, where he started the softball program and also coached football, basketball and baseball.
James Wood of Center Point was another of the 50-year honorees. And there were several other area honorees, as well, including Daniel Thomas of Cedar Rapids as one of five “aspiring new officials,” Patrick Pacha of Washington (Iowa) as softball official of the year and Chris Oberbroeckling of Marion as baseball official of the year.
The 108th edition of the Drake Relays presented by Hy-Vee thrilled nearly 40,000 fans over four days of action with tremendous performances across all divisions. A total of four Drake Relays records were broken or tied and three world-leading marks were established. On Monday, May 1, the best of those performances were honored with the announcement of the Relays Most Outstanding Performers.
The University of Iowa Men’s track and field Team captured the 2017 Hyvee Cup at the Drake Relays on Saturday.
Courtesy Hawkeye Athletics, click here! Feature photo: Coach Joey Woody and the Hawkeyes ©Darren Miller-Hawkeyesports.com
Iowa takes the title back to Iowa City after accumulating 39 team points including three relay victories. The three relay wins are the most for Iowa at the Drake Relays in the event’s 108-year history. The women’s team finished seventh with 12 points.
“This has been one of our goals the past few years since they came up with this concept,” UI director of track and field Joey Woody said of the championship. “It’s a lot of fun and it makes it a team atmosphere. This is what we have been talking about all year, winning relays and individual titles because we did well individually too.”
The Hawkeye men won the 4×800 meters (7:24.77), 4×400 meters (3:07.35), and sprint medley relay (3:20.40).
Iowa runs two sophomores and two freshmen on the 4×400 meter relay. As the team enters the postseason, their relays are clicking.
“To be a freshman and to be surrounded by these guys is great,” freshman Emmanuel Ogwo said about his 4×400 teammates. “They take their job very seriously so coming into practice every day, the energy is high and the expectations are high.”
In addition, Iowa has won the sprint medley relay in three out of the past six years at the Drake Relays and won their first 4×400 meter relay since 1967.
Junior Carter Lilly was on two championship relays – the sprint medley relay and 4×800. As a native Iowan, there is nothing better than coming to Drake and giving the fans a show.
“It’s always fun to come to Drake and win flags,” Lilly said. “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.”
The women joined in with a win of their own in the 4×100 meters. The squad of sophomore Taylor Chapman, sophomore Briana Guillory, senior Alexis Hernandez, and junior Brittany Brown came from behind on the front stretch to win their first relay title in the event since 2014.
Individually, senior Aaron Mallett won his first Drake Relays title in his final appearance as a Hawkeye. Mallett’s 13.47 in the 110 meter hurdles won the event and was a seasons best.
“He’s been fighting to get that title the past couple years,” Woody said. “Unfortunately he has had some Olympic gold medalists in front of him. For him to come out on top was great and he had a phenomenal performance today that will set him up well for Big Tens.”
Sophomore Reno Tuufuli won Iowa’s fifth title of the weekend with a 59.34m mark in the men’s discus for his first Drake Relay championship and in his second appearance at the event.
“It’s been a very successful meet for me,” Tuufuli said. “I never came here in high school but to see it in college is very overwhelming.”
Moving forward there is one standard for Woody’s team.
“We expect success every time we step on the track.” he said.
The postseason begins with the Big Ten Championships, hosted by Penn State May 12-14.