By Ryan Murken
Your Prep Sports
The attention shifts entirely to the track on Saturday at the Drake Relays with six running event finals for both boys and girls on the high school schedule.
Eight relays champs (four boys and four girls) will be crowned Saturday on the final day of the 108th Drake Relays.
Here are five of the top storylines to follow on the final day of the three-day high school meet.
Simply put, weather conditions were less than ideal on Friday. More bluntly, temperatures in the 30s and steady rain made for lousy day for spectators and a tough day for competitors.
The bad news is that things don’t look much better for Saturday.
Forecasts call for a high of 47 on Saturday with an 80 percent chance of rain.
The good news is that the rough weather conditions couldn’t stop three records from being broken on Friday.
Can Welch Add Another?
Valerie Welch is already a two-time Drake Relays champion and the first girl in West High history to win individual titles in two different events after winning the 100 hurdle title on Friday.
Welch will have two more chances to add to her title count on Saturday.
The senior has the 200 fastest qualifying time in the 400 hurdles at 1:03.92 which is nearly two and half seconds behind state leader Payton Wensel (1:01.52) of Linn-Mar.
Welch will also run a leg on the West High shuttle hurdle relay team that enters with second fastest qualifying time at 1:04.98.
Welch was second in both events last year.
Miller Gets Her Shot
The field for the 400 hurdles doubled this season, expanding from eight to 16 qualifiers.
West Branch senior Paige Miller would have been in under the old format as she enters with the seventh best time in the state this year at 1:06.2.
The lone qualifier in the top eight that is not from Class 3A or 4A, Miller will carry the banner for the small schools in an event that has had a 4A champion each of the past five seasons.
Solon freshman Gabbi Bullard is also a 400 hurdle qualifier and enters with the 13th best time at 1:06.53.
Another Moving Day for Solon Relays?
Solon didn’t win a relay on Friday or even crack the top 10 for that matter.
The Spartans did move up from their seeded times in both relay events on Friday highlighted by a 12-spot jump to 12th in the sprint medley.
Solon will look to keep that trend going on Saturday.
The Spartan 4×400 relay team of Taylor Ryan, Caylee Annis, Abby Smith and Erin Kerkhoff qualified for the finals with the sixth fastest time at 4:01.87.
Solon’s shuttle hurdle relay team of Molly Duckett, Rachael Nelson, Peyton Sands and Alexis Sands has the 16th fastest time entering Saturday’s prelims at 1:07.67.
Little Hawks Look For Strong Finish
Nothing puts the finishing touches on a meet like a strong finish in the final event.
City High is in a position to end the Drake Relays on a high note after the Little Hawks 4×400 relay team qualified for the finals with a time of 3:22.9.
The foursome of Daniel Brown, Zach Jones, Lucas Firmstone and Jack Roggeveen dropped more than two seconds off its previous best time in the Drake Relays prelims on Friday and bring the seventh best time into the finals.