Drake Relays News

Jim Patterson-Drake Official
©Rebecca F. Miller/The Gazette

50 Memorable Years for Jim Patterson by J.R. Ogden of The Gazette

Jim Patterson-Drake Official ©Rebecca F. Miller/The Gazette

Jim Patterson-Drake Official
©Rebecca F. Miller/The Gazette

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.

Omar McLeod- Jamaica
©Jim Kirby

Drake Relays Announces the Outstanding Performers

Joy Ripslinger-Assumption, winner of the Gerry Cooley Award (High School Girls)   ©Jim Kirby 2017

Joy Ripslinger-Assumption, winner of the Gerry Cooley Award (High School Girls)
©Jim Kirby 2017

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.

Of this year’s honorees, three are past Drake Relays champions who once again rose above the tremendous competition on the Blue Oval to be recognized as the best of the best from the latest installment of ‘America’s Athletic Classic.’
Those winners include Omar McLeod as the Maury White Award winner, Minnesota-Duluth’s Emilee Trost as the women’s invitational/collegiate Most Outstanding Performer, Mt. Vernon’s Tristan Wirfs as the Robert Kramme Award winner and Davenport Assumption’s Joy Ripslinger Donahue as the recipient of the Gerry Cooley Award.
For the second time in his career and the first as a professional, Olympic gold medalist Omar McLeod has been named the Maury White Award winner. The award is given annually to the top performer from the men’s invitational and collegiate divisions. McLeod, who was a co-winner of the award in 2015 as a collegian at Arkansas, earned the honor by breaking his Drake Relays record in the men’s 110-meter hurdles. McLeod won in 13.04, bettering his previous record by 0.04 seconds. McLeod’s time is the fastest in the world this season and earned him his third-straight Drake Relays title.
“It means a lot. Any record means a lot. It shows you’re consistent and right where you want to be,” McLeod said. “This meet means a lot to me. I’ve been opening up my season here since I was in college so this has become a tradition. Every time I come here, I try to put on a show. These fans are loyal, so I want to put on a show for them.”
The voting for the women’s collegiate/invitational Drake Relays Most Outstanding Performer gave the nod to a first-time collegiate winner in Emilee Trost from the University of Minnesota-Duluth.
The junior put together a groundbreaking Drake Relays double. Trost won the women’s university-college 800 on Friday, then came back Saturday to outrun 10 competitors in the 1,500 meters to mark the first time the 800/1,500 meter double has been accomplished in the women’s division. She won the 1,500 meters in 4:24.71, finishing more than four seconds ahead of runner-up Amanda Gehrich of Utah. On Friday, she won the 800 meters with a personal best of 2:05.65.
“To get a flag is pretty special and I’m really blessed to be able to do that,” Trost said after winning the 800 meters.
The high school competitions produced record-setting performances as they have for generations at Drake Stadium, but there was a pair that were near-unanimous selections for Most Outstanding Performer.
Mt. Vernon’s Tristan Wirfs was the runaway vote-getter for the Robert Kramme Award, given to the top boys high school competitor.
Wirfs headlined a historic boys’ shot put competition as four athletes launched throws of more than 60 feet. Wirfs winning throw of 66-3 ½, which ranks sixth in the country this year and second in Drake Relays history trailing only Cedar Rapids Jefferson Doug Lane’s meet record of 67-2 ¼. Wirfs became the 12th in meet history to win back-to-back Drake Relays titles in the boys shot put. Less than 24 hours later, Wirfs completed the rare double with a victory in the boys’ discus Friday morning. Wirfs launched a throw of 190-1, which ranks 26th in the country this year. Wirfs’ throw was the best winning throw at the Drake Relays since Thomas Reynolds of Iowa City West won the 2008 title with a heave of 191-0. Wirfs also became the fifth prep in Relays history to sweep the throwing titles, joining Newton’s Chase Madison (2004), Camanche’s Scott Schaley (1993) Davenport West’s Dave Juehring (1982) and Glenwood’s Scott Davis (1988).
“Sweeping the throwing events is amazing,” Wirfs said. “In the shot put, Jared Brinkman of Regina threw a big throw and I knew I had to get another big one out there and I threw 66-3 ½. In the discus I fouled my first throw and wanted to get a throw out there and hit 172-4 and then was able to hit 190-1 and just tried to keep it rolling.”
Davenport Assumption’s Joy Riplslinger was the unanimous choice as the Gerry Cooley Award given to the most outstanding girls’ senior high school competitor at the Drake Relays. Riplslinger finished her high school career with seven Drake Relays titles after winning the 800 and 1,500 meters on the Blue Oval. With the sweep, she joined Stephanie Jenks and Shelby Houlihan to become just the third athlete to complete the sweep. She won the 1,500 meters in 4:31.91 after claiming the 800 meters in 2:10.47. She also ran a leg on the team’s 4×400-meter and sprint medley relay teams that both finished second.
“I know there have been so many talented distance runners come through and I’m just glad to leave my mark,” Ripslinger said after winning the 1,500 meters. “A couple of years ago, I never would have guessed I’d be in the same category as those girls (Jenks and Houlihan). They were my role models and still are, so it’s cool to be compared to them.”
The 108th Drake Relays presented by Hy-Vee featured the 52nd consecutive Saturday sellout with 14,504 fans crowded around the Blue Oval after more than 16,000 fans streamed through the gates during the two Friday sessions. The 109th edition of America’s Athletic Classic is scheduled for April 25-28, 2018.
2017 Drake Relays Most Outstanding Performers
Maury White Award (Collegiate/Invitational Men) – Omar McLeod
Collegiate/Invitational Women – Emilee Trost – Minnesota-Duluth
Robert Kramme Award (High School Boys) –  Tristan Wirfs – Mt. Vernon
Gerry Cooley Award (High School Girls) – Joy Ripslinger – Davenport Assumption
Joey Woody & the Iowa Hawkeyes
©Darren Miller Hawkeyesports.com 2017

Hawks Win Hy Vee Cup at the Drake Relays

Carter Lilly-SC East-Iowa ©Darren Miller Hawkeyesports.com

Carter Lilly-SC East-Iowa
©Darren Miller Hawkeyesports.com

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.