Drake Relays provide opportunity for Iowa State to be ‘visible’

Dylan Montz

Traveling to Arizona and California for the majority of the 2012 outdoor track-and-field season has given the ISU men’s team a chance to experience different parts of the country and good running weather.

But now, the Cyclones will travel to the Drake Relays in Des Moines and will witness competition from high school, collegiate and professional athletes.

ISU coach Corey Ihmels said he doesn’t necessarily see the Drake Relays as a recruiting weekend but as a great opportunity to showcase the ISU track-and-field program to in-state talent.

“[The Drake Relays] is about being able to watch [high school athletes] compete at a high level in a great environment and also have them be in the same stadium that you are, watching your athletes,” Ihmels said. “It’s just not the time or place to be chasing high school kids around, but it’s just a place you want to be visible and a place you want to see your athletes do well.”

Senior Charlie Paul, a native of LeClaire, Iowa, qualified for the Drake Relays as a high school student but never was able to compete due to stress fractures. However, Paul said the event is a great opportunity for Iowa high school students to have in their home state.

“Really for a lot of high school kids, it’s such an eye-opener,” Paul said. “It shows what’s out there, that there are bigger and better things in track and field. You get kind of a narrow viewpoint sometimes of just going to high school meets. To go to [Drake] and see the college talent and professional talent, it inspires you.”

For sophomore Alex Dillenbeck, his first year at Iowa State was his first taste of the Drake Relays.

Dillenbeck, a native of Aurora, Colo., said he didn’t know much about the Drake Relays while in high school in Colorado, but when he got to Iowa State last season, it was a cool experience.

“Last year, I led off the 4×1,600 relay and the distance medley relay, which was kind of crazy,” Dillenbeck said. “It was my freshman year and it was this huge meet and they just kind of threw me in as the starting leg where I could make or break the race.”

Something else that caught his eye at Drake Stadium, Dillenbeck said, was the blue oval track and the number of fans who attend the Relays.

“It’s just a great atmosphere when you’re out there,” Dillenbeck said. “It’s just such a big deal for a track meet that there is a bunch of fans out there. You don’t see that at a track meet very often.”