DES MOINES — When the 104th Drake Relays opens competition this week, it will include four different events with area athletes competing in them.
Creston senior Luke Neitzel, Murray junior Kate Patton, Mount Ayr senior Braydee Poore and the Mount Ayr 4x100 relay team of Grant Staats, Jacob Sobotka, Erik Freed and Cody Stackhouse all qualified for the Drake Relays.
Poore will get things started for the area athletes, competing in the high jump at 3 p.m. Thursday.
Poore just returned from the Kansas Relays, where he placed second in the high jump competition. (See related story).
The Mount Ayr senior who finished second at last year’s Drake Relays with a jump of 6-5 enters this year’s competition tied for third in the state with a jump of 6-7.
Justin Randall of Burlington has the state’s leading mark with a jump of 6-9, while Jeff Giannettino of West Burlington Notre Dame has cleared 6-8.
A total of eight competitors in this year’s field have already cleared 6-6, setting up the potential for a very exciting high jump competition.
The next area event to take the track will be Patton in the high school girls 100 meter dash prelims.
Patton runs in lane five, heat two at 8:31 a.m. Friday in the prelims.
She enters the competition with the state’s sixth-fastest time, clocking a 12.55 hand time at East Union.
Also running in Patton’s heat will be Waukee freshman Talia Buss, who sports the state’s fifth-best time in the event at 12.54. Des Moines Roosevelt’s Agnes Sayeh has the state-leading time of 12.25 and runs in heat three.
Finals of the girls 100 meter dash will run at 12:10 p.m. Friday.
Neitzel takes the long jump runway at 9:30 a.m. Friday.
The Creston senior who just took up long jump this year will be the first jumper in flight one.
“Pretty excited about him making it, especially with this being his first year of long jumping,” Creston head coach Pat Schlapia said. “We knew he had the capabilities of it, but this year he wanted to give it a shot. He’s got the athletic skills there’s no limit to what he can accomplish in that.”
Neitzel becomes the first long jumper from Creston to qualify for the Drake Relays since Michael Buck in 2003.
He enters tied for 19th in the state with a jump of 21-4.50. Tied with Neitzel for 19th is a familiar foe in Perry sophomore Will Whiton, who was the starting quarterback for the Bluejays’ football team in the fall.
Keokuk senior Darrion Sanders has the state’s best leap at 23-3.
“He’s been consistently around the 21-foot mark,” Schlapia said of Neitzel. “Him getting up there is not a fluke. He deserves it. He’s going to do a good job of representing Creston boys track. I’m not going to set any limits on him, because there aren’t any limits on him as far as the long jump goes. Each time he goes out there, he gets more confident.”
Joining Neitzel in the long jump competition are fellow Hawkeye 10 competitors Grant May of Glenwood and Kray Lukehart of Atlantic.
The final event featuring area athletes will be the boys 4x100 relay featuring the Mount Ayr team of Staats, Sobotka, Freed and Stackhouse.
Prelims of the 4x100 relay are 6 p.m. Friday, with finals at 3:15 p.m. Saturday.
The Raiders run in heat seven, lane seven on Friday. Joining the Raiders in heat seven are Urbandale, Central Clinton, Tri-Center, Council Bluffs St. Albert, Lynnville-Sully, Boone and Davenport West.
Mount Ayr enters with the 51st-best time in the state.