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Friday, Apr. 29, 2016

Area athletes' wait for Drake is over

Thursday, April 28, 2005

Sioux Central senior Matt McKibben has been looking forward to the Drake Relays since the current track and field season began.

McKibben will compete in the 110 high hurdles Friday morning at Drake Stadium in Des Moines in one of the oldest and most well-known track and field events in the nation.

Both college and high school athletes will compete in separate divisions in the meet, with some of the top track and field athletes in the world competing.

McKibben, meanwhile, is hoping to notch a Division I scholarship for track and field, and he's close. He's been talking to coaches from Iowa State and Northern Iowa.

Iowa State coach Steve Lynn will be at Drake Stadium Thursday and Friday, and he'll be keeping an eye on McKibben.

Lynn, however, will be rooting against McKibben in the 110 highs Friday. His son Scott, an Ames High senior, will be running in that event in the lane next to McKibben.

"This is a big moment for Matt," said Sioux Central boys track and field coach Nathan Leidahl. "He's been waiting for this for a long time."

McKibben has won every 110 high hurdles race this season with the exception of last week when he was beaten by Kingsley-Pierson's Nick Kolpin at Ida Grove.

The Sioux Central senior enters the race with a season's best time of 14.42 seconds.

"The key for Matt will be to get a good start out of the blocks," Leidahl said. "He tends to get out a little slow, but has great speed and technique after that. He hopes to put it all together Friday."

Sioux Central's Cody Wiitmaack will also be competing at Drake. He'll compete in the long jump Friday at 8:30 a.m.

Wiitmaack set a new personal best and school record leap of 21 feet, 11 inches in Cherokee two weeks ago. He was tenth last year at the Drake relays and was sixth last spring in the long jump at the state meet.

"We know Cody is capable of jumping 22 feet or better, because he's done that several times after scratching by an inch or two," Leidahl said. "But Cody is such a consistent jumper; he hasn't jumped under 20 feet this year. Because of that, he has a chance to make the finals."

The Storm Lake High boys will send its 4x100 relay team to Drake, where it will compete Saturday morning. Coach Jeff Brennan will bring five athletes to Drake, but hasn't decided the exact makeup or order of the relay.

Those five Tornado boys are Derrick Randall, Lance Eddie, Alex Spielman, Tyson Brandt and Nate Porsch. The SLHS 4x100 qualfied for Drake at the Tomahawk Relays in Cherokee, finishing in 45.77 seconds.

"The winning relay at Drake will probably run a 42.80 or so," Brennan said. "So with all the kids but Lance being underclassmen, this will be a good experience for them."

Also competing in the high school boys division is Aurelia senior Matt Berg in the shot put. He was a state meet qualifier last year, but this season, has consistently thrown 50 feet or over.

Berg threw a personal best and school record toss of 53 feet, 10.5 inches at a meet three weeks ago. He'll be competing at Drake Stadium Thursday at 5 p.m., according to Aurelia coach Marv Munden.

"Matt has increased his distances at almost every meet we've had this season," Munden said. "We think he has a good chance of finishing in the top six. That's his goal."

In the girls division, Storm Lake sophomore Heather Kessler will compete in the 100 hurdles Friday at around 9 a.m.

Kessler has a season's best time of 15.38 seconds in that event but ran her personal best of 15.18 late last season.

"It's going to be tough for Heather, because she'll have to get up around 5 in the morning, travel two hours and compete," said SLHS coach John Brostad. "But she has good height, speed and technique so Heather has a chance to run well."

Alta sophomore Dee Hinkeldey and Laurens-Marathon senior Jacqulyn Schmidt will be competing at Drake.

Hinkeldey, the defending Class A state champ in the 400 meter dash, will be running the 100 meter dash Friday morning. On Thursday, she'll compete in the girls high school long jump.

Hinkeldey owns five Alta school records, including the 100, 400, 200 races and the long jump.

She enters the Drake Relays with a personal best time of 12.47 in the 100 meter dash and a personal best of 17 feet, 7 inches in the long jump. Both marks were set this season.

"It will be interesting to see what Dee's time is Friday in the 100," Alta girls coach Pamela Barnes said Wednesday afternoon. "She hasn't been pushed in many 100 dash races this season but she will be Friday."

Hinkeldey could also compete in the 400 meters, but that race isn't held at the Drake Relays in the high school division. The long jump is.

"Dee's a little nervous about the long jump," Barnes said. "She has good potential in that event."

Schmidt, meanwhile, will be competing at Drake Friday morning in the 100 hurdles. She enters the race with a personal best time of 14.62 seconds, which is fourth best in the field.

Schmidt won the Class 1A 100 hurdles title last spring at the state meet in Des Moines. According to Charger girls track and field coach Kerry Feekes, Schmidt should fare well Friday.

"She's been running very well all season," he said. "The two keys for her will be to get off to a good start and not have difficulty with any of the hurdles."

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