The Marquette track and field teams will compete in two events this weekend. The majority of the team will go to Indianapolis, Ind., to compete in the Stan Lyons Invitational. However, the main event this weekend is the Drake Relays held in Des Moines, Iowa, this Thursday through Saturday.
The Drake Relays, which is held for the 102nd time this year, is a massive relay track meet featuring competitors at multiple levels. Along with runners from 128 colleges and universities, athletes will also compete in high school divisions, and some professional runners will compete as well. Overall there will be more than 7,000 participants at the meet this weekend.
“These meets tend to take on a carnival atmosphere,” coach Bert Rogers said. “We will see some good competition there. It should be a lot of fun.”
Marquette will compete at the Drake Relays for the first time since 2005. It chose in recent years to forgo the competition in preparation for the Big East Championships, which take place the very next weekend.
This weekend Marquette sends 11 athletes to the meet, (six men, five women) and will compete in five events, four of which are relays. It will have athletes running the women’s sprint medley relay, the women’s 4×400-meter, the men’s 4×1600-meter relay, and the men’s DMR, and junior Tyler O’Brien will also be running in the open 100-meter run.
What is noticeably absent from the event list for Marquette is the men’s sprint medley relay, in which it was expected to compete for the school record. That event was scrapped due to an injury to freshman Connor Stengel suffered during practice.
“It was definitely something we wanted to do, but unfortunately some things came up,” Rogers said. “Now we have Tyler and Kyle running in the DMR, which should be good as well.”
The team is looking on the bright side of things concerning the event change.
“It would have been fun to have a school record in that event, but it’s not the end of the world,” O’Brien said. “The 400 in the DMR will probably help me more in the 200.”
Marquette should not be without an opportunity to set a school record this weekend as the women’s sprint medley relay is expected to do great things. Freshman Gretchen Homan will lead off the race with the first 200-meter leg. She will be followed by junior Stephanie Grant with the second 200, freshman Kate Hein in the 400-meter leg, and freshman Sarah Ball will anchor the race with the 800-meter leg.
“We figured out that if everybody runs, not even at a personal record, but just at what we normally run, then we should break the record by a couple of seconds,” Grant said. “I think that is a realistic goal for us.”
Rogers believes that this young group should have no problem breaking the record. The event will run Saturday morning and is available for viewing via web stream at gobulldogs.com.