Tigers show well at Drake

By Mark Larsen 2003

Competing against the state’s very best at Drake Relays last weekend, the CFHS men’s and women’s track teams were among the class of the field.

The Tiger track teams had one of the finest weekends in school history at the annual late April event as they combined for two relay titles and three other top five finishes.

For the first time since 1995, the Tiger men brought home a Drake Relays title.

Entering the weekend with the fourth fastest clocking in the field, the group of junior Kevin Roberts and seniors Jonathan Zanders, Brent Dahlstrom and Joey Robinson ran the fastest clocking in the preliminary heats before edging out Clinton in a time of 3 minutes, 21.29 seconds in the finals of the 4×400 meter relay.

Robinson, one of the state’s top middle distance runners and triple-medalist at Drake, passed the anchor from Clinton on the final stretch to bring home the gold medal for the Tigers.

“Coach (Dave) Cleveland always tells us to ‘get wide and go’ at the end of a race, so I got wide and went,” Robinson said. “The whole thing was really special.”

The relay title was extra special for Cleveland, the Tiger mens’ head coach. Earlier in the week, Cleveland’s father, Don, a former Drake Relays official and track enthusiast, passed away at the age of 66. With emotions running nhigh, the Tiger quartet went out and gave their head coach the ultimate treat.

“We did this for him,” Zanders said of Cleveland. “After all that he and his family went through this last week, to do this for him is great.”

“The group of kids has been running here since they were sophomores,” Cleveland said of his three seniors on the 4×400 squad. “Early on, they took their lumps in Des Moines, so to see them win the title after all of their hard work is very special.”

For the second straight year, the Tiger women crossed the finish line in first place in the 4×100 meter relay. The quartet of juniors Liz Bradfield, Danielle Barkema and Shatrece Burt along with sophomore Mattie Thompson blitzed the filed and set the school record with a clocking of 49.36 seconds.

“Anytime you win a Drake Relays championship, it’s very special, and it’s even better having it be our second year in a row,” women’s head coach Troy Becker said of his 4×100 quartet.

“It’s great to win once, but to do it twice in a row is unreal,” Barkema said.

“To get to be a part of this is awesome. I can hardly put it into words,” Bradfield said.

The success for the Tiger squads didn’t start or end with the two relay titles.

On Friday, the same girls quartet that won the gold medal in the 4×100 brought home an exciting 3rd place finish behind Atlantic and West Des Moines Valley. With Bradfield on the anchor and Barkema, Thompson and Burt running the first three legs, the Tigers ran a blistering 1:49.39, which broke the old school record.

On Friday as Robinson combined with fellow seniors Buddy Velasquez, Nate Hinders and Zach Homewood for a second place finish behind Ankeny in the 4×800 with a time of 8 minutes, 8.66 seconds.

Earlier in the day, the Tigers brought home ma fifth place finish in the medley relay as Roberts, Zanders, Robinson and Homewood ran a season’s best clocking of 3 minutes, 35.64 seconds. Iowa City High took first place in the event.

On the women’s side, the Tigers had strong showing in the several other events. The 4×800 quartet of Sam Nygren, Cassie Naaktgeboren, Lyssa Steckelberg and Jess Bates earned a seventh place finish as they ran a season’s best time of 9 minutes, 36.67 seconds.

Junior Ashley Barkema and sophomore Katie Goulden combined with Bradfield and Burt to run a time of 4:08.08 seconds in the 4×400-meter relay preliminaries on Saturday morning.

Bradfield earned a ninth place finish in the long jump on Thursday while Burt competed in the preliminaries of the 100-meter dash.

The Tiger men also competed in the 4×100 and 4×200 preliminaries. Derek Fourtner, Kyle Duchman, Michael Fritts and Chris Olsen competed in the 4×100 while Fritts, Duchman, Roberts and Zanders ran the 4×200. Junior Nick Nelson also qualified in the 110-meter high hurdles.

“It was the best Drake Relays we’ve had since I’ve been coaching here,” Cleveland said. “The kids competed very well.”

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