BY JAKE KRZECZOWSKI | APRIL 23, 2009 7:29 AM
The Iowa women’s track and field team this week will head to Des Moines for the 100th-annual Drake Relays, the state’s most prestigious track and field meet.
The first Drake Relays were run in 1910 to a crowd of 100 people. The 100th-anniversary edition expects to attract upwards of 8,000.
“Being from Iowa, this is a big meet for our team to show the state what we’re all about,” Iowa assistant coach Clive Roberts said.
Sophomore Karessa Farley will be favored in the 100-meter hurdles, an event she has gotten better at as the season has progressed.
“Karessa in the hurdles should be competitive with just about anybody,” Iowa head coach Layne Anderson said.
The focus of the meet, though, will be on the relays, something the Hawkeyes are confident about.
“I feel pretty good about the teams we’ve put together,” Roberts said. “We’ve got a good 4×100 team that, if they make it around the track, can make it to finals.”
Last week, the Hawkeyes got a warm-up meet of sorts, taking it easy in a dual meet against Northern Iowa.
The Hawkeyes will try to prove themselves in the state’s largest meet of the season.
“We would like to go and hear Iowa and the Hawkeyes and see some people win, represent our school well,” Anderson said.
The meet has other significance as well. In conjunction with the college meet is a high-school meet, which presents the coaches another opportunity.
“With there being a high-school meet as well, it helps with recruiting if our women do well,” Anderson said. “If they see Iowa winning some races, that may make them more excited to come here.”
For one Hawkeye in particular, the meet has a special feeling. Sophomore Hannah Roeder grew up in Des Moines and attended Roosevelt High School.
“I actually lived closer to the Drake track than I did to my own high school,” she said.
After years of sneaking onto the track to run some laps as a kid, Roeder is excited to show her hometown crowd what she can do.
“It’s kind of like a home meet for me, so I just want to get out and compete with the other girls,” she said.
If there was a time for the sophomore to perform, now is it. Over the past couple weeks, she has run well, earning a regional qualifying time in the steeplechase at the Tiger Track Classic earlier this month.
But Roeder isn’t the only one who Anderson expects to do well at the meet.
“Sometimes in relays, people start to do things that you’re looking for in individual performances because there’s not as much pressure,” he said.