Cyclone women head to Des Moines for Drake Relays

Iowa State junior Evelyne Guay starts off the women’s distance medley relay at the Drake Relays in Des Moines April 29, 2017. The Cyclones finished third with a time of 11:28.90.

Spencer Suckow

After making stops at outdoor meets across the country over the past month, the Iowa State women’s track and field team will finish up the outdoor regular season in their own backyard this weekend.

Starting on Thursday night, the Cyclone women will compete in the Drake Relays in Des Moines, Iowa, which serves as the final meet for the team until the Big 12 Championships in Waco, Texas, on May 11, 2018.

As usual, the meet serves as a homecoming of sorts for many Cyclones on the roster. Thirteen members of the women’s track and field team are natives of Iowa, and at least five, Larkin Chapman, Emma Whigham, Jasmine Staebler, Adriana Kammerer and Abby Caldwell, are expected to compete throughout the weekend.

While the Iowans on the roster are certainly familiar with the Drake Relays from growing up in the state and competing in the meet themselves, they aren’t the only ones. Other members of the team have seen success at the Blue Oval in the past as well.

Perhaps the best example of this is senior jumper Jhoanmy Luque, who took first place among university athletes last year in both the long and triple jump with leaps of 20-feet-1 and 43-feet-0 ½, respectively.

While those jumps are well off of Luque’s personal records in the events, part of the reason for the lower scores last year came due to the sloppy conditions outside.

Rain and cold temperatures plagued the 2017 relays, but with clear weather and temperatures in the 60s expected this weekend, Luque should be able to best her marks from last year and continue her excellent senior season.

Also looking to build off her success at the relays last year will be junior Whigham, who took third place in the heptathlon at the relays in 2017.

Although she won’t be competing in that particular event this year, Whigham will be competing in the 400-meter hurdles, an event she’s improved on throughout the outdoor season culminating in a 1:01.50 personal record last week at the Michael Johnson Invitational.

Additionally, Whigham was also part of the relay team that took second place in the 4×800-meter run and third place in distance medley, along with Staebler, Evelyne Guay and Erinn Stenman-Fahey.

That combo will likely be what Iowa State sends out this year as well, which could make Iowa State one of the favorites in the event.

In addition to the returning athletes, there are also some women making their Drake Relays debut this weekend. In fact, there are currently seven entries for Iowa State scheduled to compete in the relays for the first time.

Among the first timers expected to show well is Essence Henderson, who’s notched several first place finishes in what’s been a stellar freshman season. Henderson will be competing in the shot put and discus events in which she placed in the top-three just last weekend at the Michael Johnson Invitational (which included a seven-foot personal record in the discus).

Keiara Williams and Tessa Krempel will also look to build off of strong performances last week. Williams took first place in the open division of the shot put with a 46-foot-11 ¾ throw, a season best, while Krempel set a new personal record in the hammer throw with a throw of 175-feet-7. The throw earned Krempel a fourth-place finish, and was her second personal record in as many weeks.

The Drake Relays will begin for the Cyclone women starting Thursday night, when Karly Ackley and Anne Frisbie compete in the 5,0000-meter run. Events will then continue throughout the weekend on Friday and Saturday, with coverage of the event broadcast on NBC Sports Network from 2-4 p.m. on Saturday and all weekend on USATF.TV.