DES MOINES - Destiny proved to be on Neil Flattery's side Friday afternoon at the 103rd annual Drake Relays.
The St. Edmond senior and University of Iowa recruit established a new meet record in the 800-meter run, clocking a winning time of 1:55.18, which bested the former mark set in 2011 by Glenwood's Kyle Wheeler (1:55.82). Lisbon's Conner Smock (1:57.17) settled for runner-up honors in the 800 yesterday.
"I thought I had a shot (of winning) coming in and just wanted to stay with the leaders," said Flattery, who became the first Gael to win a Drake Relays title since Tim Newberry received gold in the high jump (6-2) in 1968. "I was kind of boxed in at the very beginning, but I felt pretty good once I got out. It felt fast because of the wind and the cold. It felt faster than it really was."
Flattery previously captured Class 2A individual state titles in both the 400 and 800 last spring and was also a member of the Gaels' gold medalist 4x800. Flattery, who also helped SEHS to a pair of state team championships and a runner-up showing in the 4x400 at the 2010 Drake Relays, was making his fourth Drake Relays appearance.
"(The 800 Drake Relays crown) ranks right up there with everything else I've won," Flattery said. "In middle school I used to come here and watch my brother (Joey) run. Two years ago (former SEHS teammate) Joe Schomberg texted me that Drake was going to start the 800 as a new event, and ever since then one of my goals has definitely been winning it. I can't really describe the feeling right now. I'm just speechless."
St. Edmond head coach Bill Kibby was proud to see Flattery rewarded for his stellar individual efforts.
"It was just a great race," Kibby said. "I told Neil to stay in the pack and see if you can break out in the final 100 meters. He got tripped and almost went down at the 200 mark, but he kept going and still ran a 56 quarter. I never thought he'd win that big and figured it would probably come right down to the wire."
Junior Hank Lentsch tied for ninth in the high jump (6-01) as well for the Gaels on Friday. Jared Schoelerman (6-07) of Clay Central-Everly posted a victory in that same event.