July 25, 2021

A different looking Drake Relays

This year’s Drake Relays will look much different than in past years. The crowds will be small. The tickets will be sparce. And all of the high school events take place on one day.

The biggest change for me personally might be that I won’t be in the stadium covering our Jasper County athletes.

When I reached out to Drake about applying for a press credential, Sports Information Director Ty Patton told me they hadn’t yet opened the online application yet.

Drake still wasn’t sure how they were going to handle the media at that point.

Many folks were upset there weren’t any tickets left for the high school day on Thursday, which was the final night to qualify for the annual event.

There was probably a better way to go about selling the limited tickets they had but Drake is in a tough spot.

Last year’s Relays were canceled because of COVID-19. This year’s Relays are limited for the same reason.

Some will say there shouldn’t be a limit on tickets because the event is outdoors at a big stadium.

But most of the folks who are complaining only see things through their own lens. Drake has a lot of things to consider that the common fan doesn’t think about.

The high school portion of the Drake Relays is probably the least important day for the Relays themselves. Other states big track and field events are moving forward without high school competition. We should all be happy Drake allows the high school students to compete at all.

The biggest reason they have to limit tickets is due to the fact that professional athletes and Olympians competing less than 100 days before the Olympic Games will be here. Drake will take zero chances in hurting their Olympic opportunities. The fewer the fans, the better chance those Olympians can compete without worrying about COVID-19 in an Olympic year.

Drake also has to work with all of the colleges involved with the Relays. Those schools all have guidelines they have to follow, too. It’s not an easy situation.

I want all the parents with kids competing in the Drake Relays to be able to attend the event. But sometimes life isn’t sunshine and rainbows. We as adults will just have to find a way to deal with it. And hopefully the adults are setting the examples for the kids competing.

If it were me, and my child was competing and I couldn’t watch, I would give her a hug, tell her good luck and to do her best in whatever event she was competing in. This memory should be about the kids. Not about the parents who are unable to watch in person.

I do hope I can get into the stadium to cover the events involving our area athletes.

But even if I can get in, media members are not being permitted to field level like in past years. Photographers will be allowed to shoot from designated areas in the stands.

I don’t know how that will work. I can’t imagine being able to shoot Newton’s Keith Moko in the high jump like I want to from the designated area. I will do the best I can.

I will hold back my frustrations if I can’t get in. I will do my best to set a good example of how adults should handle adversity.

Drake is not allowing in-person interviews either. So it’s either Zoom it up or get in touch with the six athletes some other way. And there are other ways. I will figure it out.

PCM’s Margo Chipps qualified for the girls 100-meter hurdles event on the final day to qualify. So did Newton’s Jackson Mace-Maynard in the 800. He also got some good fortune as a handful of runners dropped out to focus on other events.

Good luck to the area athletes competing. The other three are Treycen Garton, Derek Beiner and Cody Klein, who are joining Mace-Maynard in the 4x800 relay.

Enjoy the experience. We will get through the changes together.

UPDATE: I got told today by Drake that I can get into the stadium with a press credential. And they will be selling a few more tickets for parents of high school athletes that don’t have them yet. They will be directly sold through the coaches of the athletes. So a few positives as we are a little more than one day away from the annual event.

Contact Troy Hyde at thyde@shawmedia.com