Off to the races

Ali Schuchmann, Sports Writer

On April 27 2022, the Drake Relays will be held at Drake University in Des Moines, Iowa. This is one of the most sought after meets for a runner to attend. For the event, the times are announced in late February that you must achieve in order to meet the “Blue Standard” to qualify. The event allows the fastest high school runners in the state to compete against one another, regardless of what athletic class their school is in. For each event, there is a different amount of people that can qualify; this is also referred to as the field size. The field size ranges from 16 to 96 people or teams depending on the event. Remarkably, even after multiple meet cancellations due to weather, Xavier has three junior runners that have qualified in individual events. As of April 26 this includes Emma Arnold, a member of the girls track team, and potentially Grayson Hartman and Aidan McDermott, who are members of the boys team. Arnold qualified for Drake Relays in the 400 meter hurdles with a time of 1:06.41 and met the Drake Relays Blue Standard. This is not surprising, as Arnold placed 8th at the 2021 State Track Meet and currently has the school record in this event. She initially broke the record during the 2021 track season and has broken it four more times since then. Her most recent personal record of 1:05.56 puts her second in the state leading up to the Relays. “I have been really pushing myself at practice and my teammates have helped me improve so much. Something I am really trying to work on is running with a clear mind and I think it has helped my times a lot. The Relays are just another meet. I need to go out there and perform just like any other meet,” Arnold said. Hartman and Mcdermott are both very familiar with the pressure of high stakes competitions. They also competed at the 2021 State Track Meet and are a part of the Xavier football team that placed second at state this year. Their work during football and in the off- season has helped them improve their speed and technique. “Off-season lifting has played a big role in helping me this year. My teammates helped me by pushing me in the weight room to get better everyday,” Hartman said. Xavier alum Erik Zenicek (X11), who is in his first year of teaching theology at Xavier, is an Assistant Coach for the Boys Track and Field team. He participated in Drake Relays all four years of high school and is going to use his first hand experience to help guide his athletes and help them prepare. “A lot of it is putting them in situations that are going to mimic what they are actually going to do when they get there. Giving them high expectations to really refine the skills so that if they get butterflies in the moment, they will have already practiced it many times so that they can do it without thinking. We will not be doing anything new during these races even though we are in a different place,” Zenisek said. These athletes have worked hard to get to where they are today. If one is looking to attend a track meet with remarkable runners, be sure to either go to the meet in person or watch it online on NBC Sports Network.