Athletes raise bar again at Drake Relays

DES MOINES – Once again, the bar has been raised.

The 105th edition of the Drake Relays presented by Hy-Vee proved to be one of the most memorable in the meet’s storied history.

And the records backed it up.

Eleven Relays records were broken during the four-day competition at Drake Stadium and the best of those performances were honored Monday with the announcement of the Relays Most Outstanding Performers.

High jumper Derek Drouin was a near-unanimous pick for the Maury White Award winner as the men’s collegiate/invitational outstanding performer, while hurdler Kristi Castlin earned the same honor on the women’s side.

Boone High School’s Albert Meier claimed the Robert Kramme Award as the top boys high school performer after becoming the first Iowa boys prep to break the 9-minute barrier in the 3,200 meters with a time of 8:58.46. The finish bested the previous record of 9:05.58 set by Ottumwa’s Kevin Lewis in 2011.

Davenport Assumption’s relay quartet of Emma Bassier, Maddie Irmen, Rose Ripslinger and Markel Mommsen garnered the Garry Cooley Award for high school girls. The senior foursome won the 4×100 (48.14), 4×200 (1:41.71) and sprint medley (1:45.79) relays as Davenport Assumption claimed a Drake Relays-record four relay titles along with a win in the 4×800.

At the professional level, Drouin set numerous records by clearing 7 feet, 10 1/2 inches in the high jump. His jump eclipsed the previous Drake Relays record of 7-7 shared by Relays director Brian Brown and Dusty Jonas as well as the venue mark of 7-8 held by Erik Kynard.

Drouin’s jump bested his own Canadian national record and is currently the top mark in the world.

Castlin held off one of the most talented women’s 100-meter hurdle fields ever assembled at the Relays to win by five one-thousandths of a second over defending World Champion Brianna Rollins at 12.571 to 12.576.

This year’s Drake Relays was staged in front of 49,795 fans including the 49th consecutive Saturday sellout with 14,504 fans crowded around the Blue Oval.