Drake Relays News
Ashley Miller. Graduate of Tipton HS and the University of Nebraska. Iowa’s only 15 time track and field state champion also won three Drake Relays 800M titles in high school.
Feature Photo: Ashley Miller, Brooke & Blair Dinsdale, Ellen Dougherty ©Jim Kirby
The Drake Relays are one of the premier athletic events in the entire state of Iowa, and being raised in a state that tremendously values track and field tradition was certainly a motivational factor for me to put forth my best efforts in front of the home crowd. My first Drake Relays experience was in 2004, as a little high school freshman, where I qualified in the 800 meter-run, as well as with a few relay teams for the Tipton Tigers. Going into this meet, I was ranked #1 in the 800, so I remember experiencing paradoxical emotions; nervousness, because I was only a freshman and had never run in front of a crowd that big, yet also feelings of ease due to being a freshman and really having nothing to prove.
I ended up winning the high school girls 800 meter-run in my inaugural Relays, and to this day, that race was one of the most memorable days of my life. Imagine being a novice 15 year-old finishing to the roar of the crowd, receiving a white champion flag, and getting the honor of taking a victory lap, just like the professionals. Talk about a young athlete’s dream come true! This first notable championship at the Drake Relays really bolstered my athletic career, contributing my confidence, drive to compete at the collegiate level (and beyond), and the recognition to make these dreams a reality.
Fast forward a few more Drake Relays 800 meter-run titles and 15 state track and field titles later, I was fortunate to return to the blue oval while competing for the University of Nebraska Cornhuskers. During my collegiate tenure, I was always welcomed home with open arms and unmatchable crowd support. Some notable memories included competing on an all-Iowa prep 4×800-meter relay with Brooke (Dinsdale) Schupbach, Blaire Dinsdale, and Ellen (Dougherty) Mangieri, and bringing home my only collegiate Drake Relays flag in my final attempt, winning the 2012 collegiate 1500 meter-run in then-record fashion.
Although I have now hung up my track racing spikes, I will never forget my amazing experiences at the Drake Relays. The athletes, volunteers, and fans make this event one of the best track and field events in the world, and I will always take pride in being a native Iowan rooted in that history.
Ashley Miller, MS, RDN, LD
Brogan Austin, Boone HS and Drake University. Won Class 3A state meet titles in the 1600M run and 3200M run in 2010. Brogan won 4 Missouri Valley 5K titles while at Drake as well as qualifying for the NCAA XC championships and winning a Drake Relays 5K crown.
Feature photo: Brogan Austin-Boone-Drake and Connor Wells-Roosevelt-Drake ©Doug Wells 2015
I remember the first time I learned about the Drake Relays my freshman year of high school and the hype and excitement that came with it. My high school track teammates would voice their ongoing fantasies about competing at the Drake relays where Iowa’s best high school athletes share the blue oval with the nation’s best professional and collegiate athletes. After watching my first Drake Relays my Freshman year, I too knew this was an event I wanted to be a part of. It wasn’t until my senior year that I made the elite list of top 24 in the state to qualify for the high school 3200 and 1600 meter races. I ultimately finished 2nd in both races but the losses and experience of the Drake Relays educated me on how much better I can and needed to be.
The Drake Relays brings a unique asset to the track and field world, where athletes have the opportunity to compete in front of a sold out stadium of 14,000 fans and potentially spark a love for the sport as it did for me my freshman year of high school. It is these types of events that get athletes excited about sports in the first place and helps the US stay competitive at the Olympics year after year. After my disappointing runner up finishes in high school, I always knew I would come back until I got a relays title. In college, I finished runner up at the relays two more times but was able to snag a championship my Junior year in the 5,000m, which has been one of my proudest running accomplishments to date.
Now as a professional athlete, I still have the same admiration and love for the sport of track and field, which is largely due to the Drake Relays, and I look forward to competing in my 6th Drake Relays this year.
Gary Wilson. Longtime Head Coach of Women’s Track and Field and Cross Country at the University of Minnesota:
Every once in a while in our sport, a meet becomes much more than just track and field events. Instead it becomes a family gathering.
A place where athletes and fans and officials come together for a few days to make connections that they have enjoyed for years.
I have come to Drake since 1975 and still run into friends from that first year.
Drake is important not only to Iowa but also to the entire Midwest and nation.
It is so comfortable to be there year after year. It’s like coming home.