May 25, 2015

State coed track meet ready to run in Des Moines

When the state’s top track and field athletes compete in Drake Stadium this week they will be taking part in what has become one of the nation’s largest track meets. It will be the 11th year for the State Coed Track Meet which has become bigger than the NCAA Championships.

“It is the largest attended high school state track and field meet in the nation. And behind the Penn Relays and the Drake Relays, we are the third largest attended track meet in the United States, its’ a great thing,” Jared Chizek of the Iowa High School Athletic Association says.

The meet is a cooperative effort with the Iowa Girls High School Athletic Union and Drake University. He says Drake Stadium is a great place to hold the event where more than 5,100 athletes will compete.

John Overton of the IGHSAU says the Iowa state meet has become the envy of the nation. “When I go to national meetings, most of the people are just in awe of the fact that we are able to have the venues that we do use for our state meets and our kids. Because most of their meets are broken down into classes and they are in different high school sites. They can’t believe what we have,” Overton says.

Overton says it is the largest high school track meet in the country as they average between 35 and 37,000 people over the 3 days of the meet. Overton says the meet draws plenty of track fans who have no connection to an athlete or a school. He says he found a group of 10 people from Nebraska last year outside the stadium that have come to the state meet since it went to the coed meet.

The state meet begins with competition in class 2A and 3A today.


Hawkeyes win Big 10 Tourney opener in dramatic fashion

tiger hawkSenior Nick Day slammed a dramatic two out homer to left field in the bottom of the ninth as the 15th ranked Iowa Hawkeyes edged Ohio State 3-2 in the opening round of the Big Ten Tournament in Target Field.

Day says he got a couple of fast balls early and he doesn’t know why he didn’t swing at them. “I was expecting a slider late, it was a pretty decent pitch, I don’t know how I got to it. I’m still kind of shocked I guess.”

It was a huge hit for the Solon native who sat out a portion of the season with an injury. He says it’s nice to be back in the lineup and says he has been struggling, but the first hit gave him some confidence late in the game.

It was Iowa’s 39th win of the season as they advance to play Michigan on this afternoon. Iowa coach Rick Heller says it was a relief after “stubbing their toe” in losing two games in the final regular season series. Heller will send junior Blake Hickman to the mound against the Wolverines.


Iowa baseball team opens Big 10 Tourney against Ohio State

Rick Heller

Rick Heller

Just a few years ago it was a one bid league but as the Big Ten Baseball Tournament gets set to open in Target Field several teams have hopes of playing in the NCAA Regionals. In his second year at the helm Rick Heller has led Iowa a second place finish in the regular season and a number 15 national ranking.

The Hawkeyes open this afternoon against seventh seeded Ohio State. “A few years ago everyone started to make a commitment to baseball and the money started trickling down to baseball. Different teams came into the league — Nebraska came in with some tradition and a great field and a lot of people followed suit, and it has just really blown up from there,” Heller says.

Heller says his team is looking forward to playing in Target Field, a big league park. The Hawkeyes are 38-14 and Heller says he is proud of the buzz that baseball has created on campus.

“It has been a lot of fun, a lot of excitement, a lot of positive feedback for our program. I felt like when I was first hired that if we could showed some signs that the Hawkeye fans would come out and support us like they do all the other sports, and they do, it has been a lot of fun,” Heller says.

The Buckeyes are 35-18 and are one of the other teams looking for an NCAA bid.


NIACC baseball team to play in Junior College World Series

For the second time in three years the North Iowa Area Community College baseball team is headed to the division two Junior College World Series. NIACC beat Southeast Community College of Nebraska on Monday in the Northern Plains District Tournament and travel to Enid, Oklahoma for Saturday’s start of the World Series.

“It’s a wild ride and this time we kind of took the hard way, but we’ll take it,” NIACC coach Travis Hergert said. He said much of the credit goes to assistant coaches Pete Lauritsen and Shawn Schlecter as they put a lot of time in developing the players. “I’m so grateful to have those two guys on the staff and to have a team that is as resilient as this bunch. This group just continues to want to get better,” Hergert says.

The Trojans are one of the nation’s top offensive teams but Hergert credits improved pitching for a streak that has seen them win 27 of their last 30 games.

Enid will be familiar territory for the Trojans. They played several games there during a March trip. Herget says that gives them a better feel for what to expect as they head into the tournament.

NIACC is 48-14 and will play Kellog Community College of Michigan in Saturday night’s opening round.

Coe College upgrading track and field facilities

Coe College in Cedar Rapids has started a $900,000 project to renovate the school’s track and field facility. John Chandler the school’s athletic director says they have not been able to host track meets as the track was in poor shape and they decided it was time to make improvements.

The project includes a brand new track surface and they are also replacing the areas for the field events, with new areas for the pole vault, long jump and triple jump.

Chandler says this will be the first phase of a multi-million-dollar facilities upgrade that the school will announce in the fall. They hope to kick off the whole thing at homecoming.

Iowa baseball team drops to 15th after weekend loses

tiger hawkThe Iowa Hawkeye baseball team has fallen two spots to 15th in the latest collegiate baseball poll. The Hawkeyes dropped their first Big Ten series in more than a year as they dropped two of three games at Rutgers.

Iowa is the two seed in this weeks Big Ten tournament at target field and will play seventh seeded Ohio State Wednesday afternoon in the opening round. LSU remains top ranked. Big Ten champ Illinois is second. UCLA, TCU and Louisville complete the top five.


ISU coach discusses his family’s fight with Alzheimer’s

Paul Rhoads (file photo)

Paul Rhoads (file photo)

The battle against Alzheimer’s disease is personal for Iowa State football coach Paul Rhoads. The coach was in West Des Moines today to promote this summer’s Ride to Remember, a motorcycle ride through central Iowa that raises money for the Alzheimer’s Association.

The disease claimed the life of Rhoads’ mother, Mary, nearly four years ago. “We lost her back in July of 2011,” Rhoads said. “She was afflicted with Alzheimer’s for well over 10 years. That’s a long time to suffer with this horrible disease, a disease for which there is no cure.”

This year’s Ride to Remember will begin outside of Jack Trice Stadium on Sunday, June 21. This is the 6th year for the ride.

Rhoads says the Alzheimer’s Association not only raises funds for research but also helps the family members and care givers who are also affected by the disease. “My father was the primary caregiver for my mom…and that’s the person you start to worry about equally,” Rhoads said. “Is something going to happen to them? Is it going to be too much burden for them?”

Rhoads says the Ride to Remember is a chance to meet other people who have or had a family member afflicted by the disease. “You’re there to support the fight against Alzheimer’s and everybody has a story,” Rhoads said. “There’s crying and laughing…and honestly, to cope with the disease, it takes both.”

This year’s date for the event coincides with Fathers Day. Registration and a barbecue will begin at noon. The ride is expected to begin at 2:00 p.m.