BY JAKE KRZECZOWSKI | APRIL 29, 2009 7:30 AM
The Drake Relays means more than just a track meet to Hawkeyes Hannah Roeder and Betsy Flood.
When Roeder, a sophomore native of Des Moines was young, the Drake Relays was an annual holiday.
“When I was in elementary school, my mom would take me out of school on the Friday of the Relays,” Roeder said. “So I’ve been going since I was little.”
Roeder, who lived closer to the Drake track than to her high school, returned last weekend to her beloved meet for the first time since graduating in 2007.
She spent her freshman season in California, choosing to attend UCLA on scholarship. But after a year away, she decided to return home, allowing her the opportunity to compete at the Drake Relays again.
“It’s, definitely different when its in your hometown,” Roeder said. “It makes it a lot more exciting.”
Flood, a rising star in a strong Iowa freshman class, is also a native of Des Moines. She attended Dowling, where she helped her team earn second at the state tournament, held on Drake’s track.
The freshman has been running in the meet since she started high school, setting records along the way.
“It’s my favorite meet,” Flood said. “It’s in Des Moines, and everyone I know is there.”
Flood’s younger sister, Katie, also competed in the meet, winning the 3,000 meters for the third time.
Her sister and the rest of the stands had plenty to cheer about as the Hawkeyes performed well at the meet.
“I was excited to see her run and cheer for her,” she said. “But it was weird not to run in the same race.”
Iowa head coach Layne Anderson understands the excitement both Roeder and Flood had with running in front of a hometown crowd.
“For both of them it was a homecoming,” Anderson said. “Sometimes that can be a good thing, and sometimes they can get caught up in the emotions.”
Roeder, who admitted feeling nervous to go out in front of her friends and family, started off her run in the steeplechase with a rough fall over the first barrier. She managed to shake off the mistake, however, and get herself back into the pack, finishing fifth — two seconds away from her personal best.
“She did a good job getting up from the fall, regrouping, and working her way back into the race,” Anderson said.
Flood was the lead off on the 4×800 relay in which Iowa took sixth and had the same position in the 4×1600 meter relay which she helped her team take third in.
The two young Hawkeyes definitely gave elementary school kids cutting class last Friday something to look up to.
“I was thrilled for both of them, and I think it is a clear indication of where both are at right now,” Anderson said.