The state high school coed track meet opens Thursday in Des Moines and both sides agree the event has been a huge success. The boys and girls combined their state meets in 2005 to accommodate the scheduled renovation of Drake Stadium. Prior to that, the state meets were held on separate weekends.
Dave Anderson of the Iowa High School Athletic Association who says at first the idea of a coed meet was viewed as a temporary solution due to the renovation, and now he hopes they do it forever. Anderson says they discussed it a number of years before it happened, and the success of the event has them wanting to keep it going.
Anderson says there are a lot of advantages to combining the meets as there’s just one weekend for the officials, the parents, the boys and girls squads from small schools can travel together and save money.
Anderson says it provides a great atmosphere for the competitors as they have a Drake Relays size crowd. He says one of the early concerns was that the boys performances would outshine the girls, but he says that has not happened.
Mike Dick is executive director of the Iowa Girls High School Athletic Union and says a coed meet had been discussed for some time before the stadium was renovated. He says it’s already a busy time of year with graduations and it saves an extra weekend of time for everyone.
Dick says there was concern about how a combined meet would be received. "There was a lot of skepticism at first about what we were trying to do, would it work, would the boys performances overshadow the girls?," Dick says. He says it is one of the decisions they do not regret at all and says it is a "tremendous three days."
Dick says there has been great cooperation between the union and the association. He and Anderson were best friends in college and he says remained friends and that helped pull the thing together.
Dick feels the coed meet is here to stay, as there’s nothing in the works to make changes. He says all the response they get from schools is positive. This week’s state meet opens Thursday morning with the prelims in the girls shuttle hurdle relay.