April 25, 2009
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DES MOINES, Iowa — For the past nine months, home for Betsy Flood has been Iowa City. But the first-year University of Iowa running sensation essentially cut her teeth on the blue-surfaced Jim Duncan Track inside Drake Stadium.
Flood, who graduated from Dowling Catholic High School in Des Moines last spring, returned to the site of numerous past achievements at the 100th Drake Relays on April 23-25. Flood highlighted an impressive weekend by the Hawkeye women, leading off two relays — the 4×800 on Friday evening and the 4×1,600 mid-morning on Saturday.
“I was more excited about this meet than I was for any of the other ones this season,” Flood said. “It’s so cool to run in front of people who actually know you and I was really excited about having my friends and family cheering for me. It was so neat to get back on this track.”
“Everything’s a step up. You think you’re the best in high school and then you look around and there are people that are much better, so it sets a new standard for you.”
The last time Flood ran at Drake, she helped lead the Maroons to a runner-up finish in the Class 4A state track and field meet. Flood was runner-up in the 800-meter run (2:11.58) and anchored the second-place distance medley relay. She also ran the final leg of the state-champion 4×800 relay and set a state record by winning the 1,500 run in 4-minutes, 33.76-seconds.
That was high school. Flood has noticed the increase in intensity of collegiate competition.
“Everything’s a step up,” she said. “You think you’re the best in high school and then you look around and there are people that are much better, so it sets a new standard for you.”
Judging by her performance at the Drake Relays, the transition has been an easy one for Flood. She had the Hawkeyes near the lead at the first exchange of the 4×800 relay (Iowa finished sixth in 8:53.91). Flood followed that by putting the Hawkeyes in excellent position in the 4×1,600 relay with a 4:50.2 leadoff leg. Iowa went on to finish third in that event in 19:36.43.
“I just wanted to see what I could do,” Flood said of her return to Des Moines. “This is probably one of the closest tracks to my house. My whole high school team was here, my parents, my grandmas. I just kept seeing people I knew.”
It also presented a rare opportunity for Flood to watch her younger sister, Katie, perform. The younger Flood won her third Drake Relays title in the 3,000, was runner-up in the 1,500 and 4×800, and placed fifth in the 800.
“It was exciting to watch (Katie) run and to not be running against her,” Flood said. “I kept saying, `wow, this is so weird that I’m here, but I’m not running in this race or that race.'”
The Hawkeyes will compete at the Big Ten Championships on May 15-17 in Columbus, Ohio.