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Wacky weather robbing spring athletes

This “spring” weather sure is something, isn’t it?

Just this past Saturday, I was outside in shorts and a t-shirt tossing around a softball.

But the past few days, I haven’t even wanted to step foot outside into the cold, rain and wind.

This nasty weather has done more than just make me want hibernate inside until it gets to be 60s and sunny.

Unfortunately for the athletes in spring sports, this weather has been robbing them of their seasons.

There have been more postponements and cancellations than I can remember in any spring sports season I’ve been involved with, either as an athlete or as a sports writer.

While I’m sure it’s been frustrating for kids in every spring sport to have so many competitions either postponed or cancelled this spring, it’s especially frustrating for the track and field athletes who are trying to qualify for the Drake Relays.

The athletes only get one month to get qualifying times in for Drake Relays as it is.

When you add in all the postponements and cancellations, all of a sudden, some teams may be down to just one or two chances to try to get a qualifying mark in.

Following Tuesday’s boys track meet at Ballard Huxley, Creston head coach Pat Schlapia mentioned how the talk of the meet among coaches there was where everyone would be going on Thursday in an attempt to get one last Drake Relays qualifying performance in before the Thursday night deadline.

Schlapia said one of the coaches told him about a team in northwest Iowa that had only gotten one track meet in so far this year — all others had been cancelled because of the weather.

“You’ve got to figure we can feel pretty lucky with things, having got five meets in now,” Schlapia said after the Ballard meet.

But just because they’ve gotten five meets in doesn’t mean they’ve had the best weather to compete in, especially if they’re trying to qualify for the Drake Relays.

Still, the Panther boys did a solid job with the opportunities they had been given, having three events with a chance of qualifying for Drake following the Ballard meet.

Unfortunately, heading into Thursday’s meet — which first was going to be the makeup of the Panther Relays and then a meet at Martensdale-St. Marys after the Panther Relays were called off for good — senior Briar Evans in the high jump and the 1,600 medley relay team both were on the outside looking in.

Running a medley on Thursday wasn’t in Schlapia’s plans as he was hoping to give sophomore Jay Wolfe one final crack at getting a qualifying time in the 800 meter run.

But Evans would have known exactly what he needed to do on Thursday to qualify for the Drake Relays.

And the weather took that opportunity away from Evans.

Evans, along with Nodaway Valley senior Alex Welsch, who also had cleared 6-2 in the high jump this year, will likely end up just one inch short of qualifying for the Drake Relays.

It’s disappointing that neither one of these seniors will get to have a Drake Relays moment.

It looks likely that Creston senior Luke Neitzel will get to have that Drake Relays moment, as he sits in a tie for 19th place in the long jump, with the top 24 qualifying.

The official entry list will be announced Saturday and can be found in Monday’s edition of the Creston News Advertiser.

Should things hold up and Neitzel make it into the field, it’s likely a moment he’ll never forget.

I know I’ll never forget my Drake Relays moment, medaling with a sixth-place finish in the 3,200 meter run as a senior.

I can still picture that race lap by lap in my head.

And while that remains my favorite race of my running career, the moment I had in the 1,600 meter run two days later is another I’ll never forget.

Running in sixth place in front of sellout crowd at the 800-meter mark, I ran the curve and made a big move to the front of the pack on the back stretch.

That’s when Drake Relays announcer Mike Jay said, “And now Scott Vicker of Creston is making a move on the backstretch!”

Hearing that while racing in front of 14,557 people is something I’ll never forget.

Hopefully Neitzel will get to have a similar moment to remember for the rest of his life.

•••

As announced in Thursday’s edition of the Creston News Advertiser, we are starting a new award this year to recognize the outstanding athletes we have here in our coverage area, as well as the area I cover through the Osceola Sentinel-Tribune.

I am really looking forward to sitting down and sorting through all the worthy candidates for the inaugural South Central Iowa Athlete of the Year awards.

I already know it’s going to be a tough decision picking the male and female winners.

With as many great athletes as we have in the area covered by the two newspapers, this just provides another way for us to recognize our outstanding student-athletes.

•••

Contact the writer:

Twitter — @scottvicker

Email — svicker@crestonnews.com

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