Looking to use the familiar surroundings to its advantage, the Fort Dodge boys track team will host their 56th annual Dodger Relays here tonight.
Action begins at 4:30 p.m. with the field events. Running events start at 4:45 p.m.
Joining FDSH in the Class A field will be Ankeny, Ankeny Centennial, Des Moines Hoover, Des Moines Roosevelt, Mason City, Waukee and Waterloo East. Competing in the Class B section will be St. Edmond, Manson Northwest Webster, Humboldt, Algona, Bishop Garrigan, Eagle Grove, Boone and the Fort Dodge JV.
Last spring, the Dodgers captured their own Class A title behind six event champions. Waterloo East settled for a runner-up performance.
"This is the first time in a long time we're coming off winning (the Dodger Relays), which makes it kind of exciting," FDSH head coach John McBride said. "Everyone is chasing Waukee, who is obviously loaded with 170 kids out for track, but I don't think they'll walk away with (the championship), either. Centennial has some pretty good sprinters, too, along with us."
Anchoring the Dodgers are junior Cray Washington (100 and 200), classmate Alex Jackson (1600 and 3200), seniors Jake Porter (shot put) and Riley Prescott (shot put), the 4x100 (sophomore Keegan Myers, sophomore Sam Cook, senior JC Hatcher and Washington) and the 4x200 (Myers, senior Zach Anderson, Hatcher and Washington).
Prescott delivered a victory in the shot put here in 2013. The 4x100 and 4x200 are also defending champions. Myers, Hatcher and Washington each ran on at least one of those quartets a year ago, which both qualified for Drake and state.
In its first outdoor meet of the season last Tuesday, Fort Dodge received gold from its 4x100 and 4x200 at the Ron Peterson Relays hosted by Des Moines Hoover.
"We're not going to have any shuttle or hurdlers (this evening), which will make it tough without a full lineup," said McBride. "Thomas Thompson is out with a knee injury, but I expect our sprint events, the 4x1 and 4x2 to all do well.
"Alex Jackson should also be in contention in the distance events. Looking at the field events, Riley and Jake both have a chance for a shot put title."
Two-time reigning 1A state champion Manson Northwest Webster is seeking its second straight Class B Dodger Relays crown after winning seven events here a year ago.
Algona and St. Edmond were next in line with four titles a piece.
"The weather looks like it's going to be nice," McBride said. "This year is different in that this is our only home meet since we're not hosting districts. We'd like to get a few more things into Drake and improve our times.
"I told our kids to just go out and give the best effort they can."