Track And Field Travels To Gateway Classic
The Drake men’s and women’s track teams will continue their seasons this weekend at the Gateway Classic in Edwardsville, Ill. The Bulldogs are coming off their first home meet of the season, the Jim Duncan Invitational, at which they won eight events over the course of the two days last weekend.
The Gateway Classic gets underway on April 19 with field events beginning at 1:30 p.m. and track events at 2:30 p.m. Events continue throughout the afternoon and well into the early evening with the final event, the 4x400-meter relays starting at 7:55 p.m.
Sarah Yeager (Ottumwa, Iowa) came out strong for the Bulldogs, claiming the 100 and 400-meter hurdle titles. Travis Marsh (Ankeny, Iowa) also had a good meet, placing second in the 110-meter hurdles and fourth in the 400-meter hurdles, behind his coach LaRon Bennett who set a meet record with a time of 50.77. Phillip Beeler (Lenexa, Kans.) also made his best debut in the javelin after being out with an injury for a year.
“For him to throw as far as he threw, he’s working on over a year, that was pretty impressive,” said Drake head coach Natasha Kaiser-Brown. “It actually was a good meet performance-wise. The team made big jumps.”
Now, Kaiser-Brown is hoping the team continues to make strides toward more successes as the outdoor season approaches its halfway mark. The Gateway Classic is one of Drake’s higher-level meets early season, according to Kaiser-Brown. After a strategic, and somewhat lower-level competition at the Jim Duncan Invitational, this weekend’s meet will be a scored event with predominantly Division I teams competing. According to Kaiser-Brown, this weekend’s meet will be a preview for what’s to come in the next couple weeks, and particularly a preview of the conference meet in May.
“I need them to produce,” she said. “This is our practice for conference, so we have to treat it as if we’re trying to garner points and really try to outscore the next team. So really every performance counts.”
Kaiser-Brown’s main concern at this point in the season is health. If the team can stay healthy, she said, then they’re a great team. The team trained through the Jim Duncan Invitational last week and has been tapering off this week in preparation for the Gateway Classic. Following this weekend, the team’s focus will shift slightly in preparation for the Drake Relays.
“When you’re going to a meet, you’re trying to get people in all the open events and all the right positions so that they’re ready for May, but this one just lets us actually be a team,” Kaiser-Brown said. “So it’s not just you lining up and you’re going to win or lose. Your whole relay got to come together, so you think more strategic and that’s just fun.”
But for now, the focus is on this weekend at Southern Illinois University in Edwardsville as the team continues to prepare for the championship portion of its season.