The Drake Relays essentially is a prelude to the state meet. It is the first opportunity of the spring to see most of the premier boys and girls track and field programs come together and compete on the same track.
You get a little insight into how teams will construct lineups for the postseason.
So, what were the takeaways from last weekend's Relays?
The Quad-Cities fared very well.
Of the 16 high school girls events offered at Drake, the area had eight champions — Pleasant Valley (5), Assumption (2) and Clinton (1). On the boys side, PV's Karson Sommer recorded four top-three finishes — including a win in the 3,200. Calamus-Wheatland's Cole Moeller tied for second in the high jump.
As expected, Davenport Assumption and Pleasant Valley will be among the favorites in the Class 3A and 4A girls team races later this month.
Assumption, chasing a fourth consecutive title, scored top-five finishes in five relays and junior Joy Ripslinger won the 800. The Knights won't load up the relays as much in a few weeks to get more athletes involved, but their quality depth and individual firepower with Ripslinger, Julia Schumacher and the King sisters makes them an overwhelming favorite.
PV senior Carly Donahue was the only prep athlete to win four white flags at Drake and was named the Gerry Cooley Award winner -- given to the most outstanding female performer. She set personal-bests in winning the 100 and 400 hurdles along with anchoring a championship shuttle hurdle relay team and led off a first-place 1,600 relay squad.
McKenzie Yanek accounted for PV's other win with a victory in the 3,000.
The team race in 4A will be intriguing. Waukee and PV are the front-runners. Linn-Mar, Ames and Urbandale could sneak into the mix, too.
Waukee has more depth across the board than PV right now. It is a possibility Waukee could score points (top-8 finish) in all 19 events at the state meet.
While PV had great performances from Donahue and Yanek, there are some things it'll need to straighten out to win a second consecutive title. The Spartans didn't make the final in the 400 relay and weren't a factor in the 800 or 3200 relays. They'll need to score points in those events at state.
Clinton's Erika Hammond is decisive favorite to repeat in the shot put. She threw a personal-best 47-10 3/4 to beat 2A favorite Kiana Phelps at the Relays. Hammond's best throw is six feet farther than the next girl in her classification.
Hammond and teammate Sydney Laufenberg could go 1-2 in some order in the discus. They finished 2-3 at the Relays behind Phelps. If they could do that and Hammond wins the shot put, the River Kings would have 28 team points without any of the running events. Laufenberg could place in the shot put, too.
Northeast's Aleenah Marcucci was disappointed she didn't win any of her three primary events, but Marcucci could be in for another big gold medal haul in 2 1/2 weeks. She is the 2A leader in 100 hurdles, 400 hurdles and long jump, a couple of those events by considerable margins. The Iowa State recruit won all three of those events last year.
On the boys side, 1A high jump should be another fun battle between Danville's Mitchell Martin and Moeller. The two dueled at last year's state meet, and both have cleared 6-7 at some point this season.
After what transpired at the Relays, the PV boys can maneuver its way into the top five at state. It could threaten for a top-three finish if Sommer can duplicate what he did at Drake (won 3200, second 1600, third 800 and anchored third-place medley relay).
The Spartans should be a factor in the 800 relay, could have a couple runners in the scoring mix in the 400 and can place in the 3,200 relay.
And for those individuals and teams disappointed with what transpired at the Relays, they've got an opportunity to redeem themselves shortly.
Conference meets take place this Thursday, the state-qualifying meets are May 12 and the coed state meet is May 19-21. It'll be a sprint to the finish.