The 110th annual Drake Relays will commence this weekend on the blue oval in Des Moines. The field is loaded with high school, college and professional talent.
Here is a look at five things to watch pertaining to the Quad-Cities:
New event, area favorites
The Drake Relays has added an event to the high school schedule this year. There will be two sections of the open 400 for girls and boys contested on Friday night.
The metro has a chance of capturing a white championship flag in each race.
Bettendorf's Darien Porter and Davenport Assumption's Carly King enter as the respective top seeds.
Porter, a state runner-up in the event last year, ran 48.51 in his only open 400 this season at the Deac Ryan Relays in Eldridge. This will be the first year Porter has run in an individual event at Drake. He's also among the top five seeds in the 100.
King, a Class 3A state champion in the quarter-mile last May, posted a state-best time of 56.39 at the Assumption Invitational earlier this month. She won the 400 at the Kansas Relays last Saturday.
Muscatine sophomore Noah Yahn also is in the boys 400 field.
Tough luck for Nichols
Pleasant Valley's Kent Nichols has the 20th fastest time in the state this spring in the 3,200 at 9 minutes, 44.65 seconds.
Still, Nichols wasn't accepted as one of the 21 entrants for Thursday evening's two-mile race at Drake Stadium.
A recent rule change by the Drake Relays committee allows one school a maximum of three participants per event. Parker Huhn (9:34.55), Max Murphy (9:34.71) and Kole Sommer (9:43.66) ran faster times and will represent PV.
Nichols was an all-stater (top 15) in cross country last fall.
PV coach Erik Belby said the school had four participants qualify and run the mile at the 2008 Drake Relays. He reached out to the Iowa High School Athletic Association and Drake Relays, but they refused to budge on the rule.
Among the 22 individual high school events (11 girls, 11 boys), the boys 3,200 was the only one where a school had more than three competitors above the cutoff mark.
Other than the 400 relay which has 96 teams this season, the majority of high school events at the Drake Relays are comprised of individuals and relays from Class 3A and 4A programs.
Still, there are several 1A and 2A schools in the Quad-Cities area represented quite well this weekend.
On the boys side, Calamus-Wheatland is entered in two events — Ray Venditti (100 meters) and the 1,600 medley relay. Austin McMichael qualified in the 110 hurdles and will be part of West Liberty's shuttle hurdle relay team. Northeast is led by high jumper Braeden Hoyer.
Tipton's Andrew Stewart is in the high jump, Wapello's T.J. Dirth will throw the discus and North Cedar's Caden Wendt qualified in the shot put.
For the girls, Northeast qualified in four events — Ellie Rickertsen (100 hurdles and 400 hurdles), Claire Abbot (shot put) and the 400 relay.
Tipton's Jamie Kofron is back to defend her discus and shot put titles. West Liberty's Macy Daufeldt is in the long jump field, Bellevue's Shayla Oster throws the discus and North Cedar's Kelly Proesch qualified in the 100 hurdles.
The Q-C will not have a girl running in the 800, 1,500 or 3,000 this weekend, but the area has plenty of firepower in the relays.
Davenport Assumption and Pleasant Valley have multiple relays seeded in the top eight. Assumption enters with the top time in the sprint medley and 800 relays. PV is qualified in all six relays, including second in the 800 relay and third in the 400 relay.
On the boys side, Bettendorf's 400, 800 and 1,600 relays are seeded among the top three. The Bulldogs will have to run without Porter on one of those relays as he's allowed only four events and is slated to run the 100 and 400.
PV comes in with the top seed in the 3,200 relay in 8:04.14.
The Q-C area didn't win any of the 12 relays (six boys, six girls) last year.
There will be numerous former Q-C high school standouts competing this weekend in the college/university division.
Former Rock Island sprinter Courtney Lindsey is scheduled to run the 100 and 200 for Iowa Central Community College. Teammate Olivier Soglohun (United Township) is in the triple jump.
The University of Iowa has a strong contingent of former Q-C preps — Mallory King (Assumption), Kelli DeGeorge, Carly Donahue and Addie Swanson (PV), Erika Hammond (Clinton), Tyler Olson (Muscatine), Tanner Iske (West Liberty), Cole Moeller (Cal-Wheat), and Konnor and Karson Sommer (PV).
Former Geneseo star Erika Furbeck is slated to be in the long jump for Iowa State. North Scott alum and Northern Iowa sophomore Erica Loussaert is expected to be in Wednesday and Thursday's heptathlon. Moline's Darius King is in the javelin and shot put for UNI. United Township grad Dalton Martin will run for Wartburg.
St. Ambrose and Augustana have runners scheduled to participate, too.
— Compiled by Matt Coss