Drake Relays News

Tim O'Neil-Assumption (back row center) New Balance Nationals winning 1600 medley team

Memories from the Drake Relays: Tim O’Neil

Tim O'Neil-Assumption along with other coaches celebrating a fourth state championship

Tim O’Neil-Assumption along with other coaches celebrating a fourth state championship

Tim O’Neill.  Head Track and Field Coach at Davenport Assumption.  He has led Assumption Girls teams to four consecutive Class 3A team titles.  At the 2014 Drake Relays, Davenport Assumption won a record 5 relay titles and 4 of the Assumption girls, who were on 3 of the winning relays, shared Athlete of the Meet honors.

Feature photo: Tim Oneil-Assumption (back row center) celebrates with New Balance Nationals winning 1600 medley team

I remember competing at the Drake Relays in the mid 90’s for Davenport Assumption.  It was my first time getting to experience what all of the upper classmen and coaches were talking about.  The amount of talent that I was surrounded by was electric.  Getting to rub elbows with the best High Schoolers, Collegians and Professionals, all at one venue was incredible.  What was even better was getting to compete in front of thousands of fans.  It was like no other competition I had been a part of. I was hooked.  That was the moment that I knew I had a passion for track & field.

Fast forward to the University of Northern Iowa where I was a two-sport athlete.  I was the starting nose tackle on the football team and part of the track and field throws crew with other talented guys from the state of Iowa.   Because of my obligations with the football team, I had spring practices and the spring Game I had to attend.  I can remember driving myself in my car after spring ball and speeding down the highway to get to the Drake Relays in time so I could compete in the shot put.  I had earned a qualifying mark collegiately.  I had no chance to win or even place.  I did, however, have a chance to compete against some of the best in the country in front of thousands of fans.  I would make those sacrifices to get the opportunity to get throttled by guys like Jamie Beyer, Christian Cantwell and Reese Hoffa.  It didn’t matter.  I got to compete.  That passion was still there.

Currently, I get to share that experience at the Drake Relays with my wife, kids and my high school Track & Field Team at Davenport Assumption.  Being a 3A school, we always feel we have a lot to prove.  We want to race and compete against the best kids the state has to offer.  We have had so many great achievements as a program.  We know that we get a chance to showcase our talents to fans, other schools and have the opportunity to be seen by some of the best college coaches in the world.  I know that if I can get a kid qualified for the Drake Relays, they will share a similar experience that I have for the rest of their life.  It is a special place for Track & Field fans in Iowa.  It is the place that created the passion that I have for the sport of Track & Field.  I will be forever grateful for it.

Allen Webb
©Gannett News Media

Memories From the Drake Relays: Alan Webb

Alan Webb ©Courtesy Des Moines Register

Alan Webb
©Courtesy Des Moines Register

Competing at the 2007 Drake Relays proved to be a great choice Alan Webb.  Webb ran his fastest outdoor opener, 3:51.71 at Drake that year, then set the American record, 3:46.91 in Belgium, 3 months later.  Webb was the first high schooler to go under 4:00 for the mile indoors, when he ran 3:59.86 in January of 2001.  Four months later at the Prefontaine Classic, he broke Jim Ryun’s 36 year old high school mile record, running 3:53.43.

This is what the Drake Relays Mile record holder and 2004 Olympian, had to say about America’s Athletic Classic:

Feature photo: Alan Webb ©Gannett News Media

The Drake Relays will always hold a special place in my heart, for the wonderful memories that I have of on and off the track in Des Moines in 2007, when I surprised myself with such a fast time so early in the season in very windy conditions. I put myself right behind Moise Joseph, the pacemaker, through 800 in 1:55. When he dropped out I was in such a good rhythm that I was able to power through the wind to the finish in 3:51 breaking Steve Scotts meet record. Moise and I stayed in touch after the race and became training partners when he moved to Virginia the following year. We are still friends to 10 years later. I had an extra gear that day because the night before the race I went on my first date with the fast, fabulous and future Mrs. Julia Webb, the mother of our two daughters. Julia ran the steeple that day and made the steeple final at US Championship in 2013 (the Hot and Humid year) when they were held in Des Moines at Drake Stadium. Thank you Drake Relays for being the place were athletes can go to create great lifelong memories and create lifelong friendships.

Heather Dorniden Kampf at the Drake Relays
©Jim Kirby 2017

Memories From the Drake Relays: Heather Kampf

Heather Dorniden Kampf at the Drake Relays ©Jim Kirby 2017

Heather Dorniden Kampf at the Drake Relays
©Jim Kirby 2017

Heather Dorniden Kampf was a 8 time All American, and NCAA champion and a Drake Relays regular while competing for the University of Minnesota.  Kampf has since gone on to become one of America’s best in the Road Mile.  She has won four USA Road Mile championships and three Drake Relays Grand Blue Mile titles.  She holds the women’s record for the Grand Blue Mile as well.  She was a member of the 2014 World Championship team, running the 1500.  Recently she finished 2nd to Shelby Houlihan, in the 2 mile run, at the USA Indoor Championships.

Feature photo: Heather Dorniden Kampf at the Drake Relays ©Jim Kirby 2017

My name is Heather Kampf and I have competed at the Drake Relays for the past 11 years. I have always considered it to be like ‘Homecoming’ for the Midwest track and field community. It is more than just a track meet, it has become synonymous with spring and the start of outdoor track and field…late April is ‘Drake Season’ in my mind!!

The entire Drake Relays Week of festivities and events does such an incredible job of making Track and Field exciting, accessible, and popular amongst every level of fan. I love the way Drake has brought Track into the town- whether it’s Pole Vault in the street, or High Jump in a grocery store, it gets the sport in the public eye! Even better yet, fans can get out and be active too! Everyone from kids to masters athletes can participate in the Grand Blue Mile before they stick around to watch the Pro’s tear through the streets of Des Moines. It is in these ways that I feel the Drake Relays serves as a fantastic liaison between track and field and the general community- we need more people talking about, participating in, and supporting the sport to keep it strong and lively!

From the standpoint of an athlete, what could be better than a relay meet? It’s refreshingly different from the ‘status quo’ of normal track meets and perhaps the only time throughout the year that some runners get to pass a baton around the track. The element of chasing a common goal with your teammates makes every memory you make that much more special, especially when one considers the history and prestige behind the event and the stadium. As a collegiate athlete for the University of Minnesota I was blessed to run quite a few victory laps around the blue oval with my teammates and our Drake Relays Flags, and those laps will be memories I will cherish for life.

For athletes at any level of the game- high school, college, professionals, and masters – you can count on finding high caliber competition to bring out your very best at the Drake Relays. As a professional now, I really appreciate the opportunity to compete close to home, against great fields, for a very large prize money purse! It is so impressive what the Relays have done to elevate their Pro events to the next level. For all these reasons and more, I certainly intend to continue to compete, make memories, and (hopefully!) put on a great show for the awesome fans who brave whatever weather Mother Nature decides to throw at us every year around Drake Season!