|IOWA CITY, Iowa — Walking around Jim Duncan Track following the conclusion of the Drake Relays, the same thing was being echoed throughout the stands, “Coach Woody has this team going.”
The Hawkeye men dominated the field, winning the Hy-Vee Cup, accumulating 39 points, and winning three relays in what was the worst weather at the meet in recent history.
“This has been one of our goals,” UI director of track and field Joey Woody said. “Having the Hy-Vee Cup makes it a fun, team atmosphere. We have been talking about coming out here and winning a lot of relays.”
The three relays were the most the men have won at the Drake Relays since the event was founded in 1910. The events were the 4×800, sprint medley, and 4×400.
“To come out and win a lot of relays and score a lot of points sets us up well to get ready for the Big Ten championships,” Woody said. “We felt good about the 4×800, sprint medley, and 4×400. We felt good about the 4×100, too, and we were close to winning that race as well.”
Iowa has been building up to this for a couple years. The Hawkeyes have won the sprint medley relay in three of the past six years while ending long droughts in the 4×800 and 4×400, races the program had not won at Drake since 1929 and 1967, respectively.
“The 4×400 group is the same team that went to the national meet and ran well at the national meet,” Woody said. “We had Mar’yea on the anchor and there are not many better anchors in the entire country.”
Out-of-state competitors don’t realize the magnitude of the Drake Relays until they step foot on the blue oval and for those out-of-state Hawkeyes, they are happy they made the state of Iowa proud.
“This is my first (Drake Relays championship) and it feels good,” sophomore DeJuan Frye said. “Running for Iowa and knowing how important this is to the coaches and everybody that lives here, I feel good that I made them proud and that I did the best that I could.”
One of the season’s biggest men’s contributors has been freshman Emmanuel Ogwo, who started his career with the Iowa football program. He was part of two of the victories — the sprint medley and 4×400.
“To be a freshman and be surrounded by this group of guys is great,” Ogwo said. “They take their job seriously, so every day they come into practice and the atmosphere is high and the expectations are high.”
Ogwo runs the lead leg on one of the country’s best and youngest 4×400 group. Their lineup has two freshmen and two sophomores and currently sits seventh in the NCAA and first in the Big Ten.
The men were not the only victorious relay; the Hawkeye women cruised to the 4×100 title for the first time since 2014.
“It’s special to put on a show for our fans and go home with one of these pretty flags,” senior Alexis Hernandez said.
Hernandez and anchor leg Brittany Brown were on the relay in 2014 that won the event at the Drake Relays and they returned in 2017 to win the event for the second time in program history.
Iowa heads to the Big Ten Championships in State College, Pennsylvania, from May 12-14.