The state coed track meet turns ten years old this week and organizers says it is a tradition that will continue. Prior to 2005 and Iowa High School Athletic Association and the Iowa Girls High School Athletic Union held their state meets on separate weekends.
That all changed in 2005 and the Iowa High School Championships has become one of the biggest track meets in the country. “We believe it is the largest track and field meet in the nation. Last year a newspaper in Columbus, Ohio did an article about attendance at track meets and Drake Relays, Penn Relays and the Iowa High School Championships were listed as the top three,” according to Dave Anderson of the IAHSAA.
He says merging the two meets was discussed for a few years before it actually happened. Anderson says the meet has been so successful there is no chance of returning to the old format. This weeks meet will be the final one for Anderson who is retiring on June 30th after 25 years with the IHSAA. “There’s no better way to end your career than to know that you are serving about 5,000 young people in the state of Iowa, and that’s about what we’ll have at the state track meet,”Anderson says.
Mike Dick is executive director of the Iowa Girls High School Athletic Union and says the state meet is a cooperative effort between the two governing bodies. “We formed it together, we work on everything together, we split all the expenses and revenue and things 50-50,” Dick says.
Dick says the coed meet has been more successful than he had hoped it would be. “It’s one of those you try to think outside of the box and be kind of a visionary and hope, and my goodness, we look at the result now and we are just amazed at how good it is. Every year I say it can’t get any better and then it does,” Dick says.
Dick says he sees the format continuing into the future because it is so well received and parents only have to come to one meet if they have a son and daughter competing.
The first of three days of competition at Drake Stadium begins Thursday morning with action in Class 1A and 4A.