DES MOINES - The best of the best in Iowa will gather for the Drake Relays here over the next three days.
Action started earlier this week at Drake Stadium and throughout Des Moines, as events took place inside Jordan Creek Mall and a Waukee Hy-Vee.
The high school field events begin today at 3 p.m. with the discus and high jump, while the running events start at 4:10 p.m. with the 3000-meter race.
Fort Dodge will be competing in both the boys and girls 100-meter dash and 4x100-meter relay events.
Cray Washington advanced in the 100-meter dash with the fastest time in the state at 10.72. The junior will be challenged by a host of runners who are right behind him, including Meliek Meyer of Lynnville-Sully, Deshond Robinson from Clinton and Rico Gifford of Dowling.
All four are in separate heats for the prelims, with Washington holding lane four in the final one.
DRAKE RELAYS QUALIFIERS
100-meter dash - Cray Washington, Fort Dodge, jr.
1600-meter run - Bo Hjelle, Algona.
800-meter run - Bo Hjelle, Algona.
110-meter hurdles - Allen Jensen, Emmetsburg, sr.
400-meter hurdles - Jake Petzenhauser, South Central Calhoun, sr.
4x100-meter relay - Fort Dodge (Keegan Myers, Sam Cook, JC Hatcher, Cray Washington); South Central Calhoun (Kyler Case, Jake Petzenhauser, Sam Spencer, Kody Case).
Shuttle hurdle relay - South Central Calhoun (Kyler Case, Matt Nieland, Kody Case, Jake Petzenhauser).
Sprint medley relay - Algona (Keagan Zwiefel, Joe Teague, Esden Carroll, Bo Hjelle).
100-meter dash - Shariah Smith, Fort Dodge, fr.; Ellie Herzberg, Manson Northwest Webster, sr.; Allie Flaws, Webster City, soph; Ashley Henkenius, South Central Calhoun.
1500-meter run - Tiffany Christensen, Eagle Grove, sr.
4x100-meter relay - Fort Dodge (Shariah Smith, Car'Maiya Mosley, Lexi Astor, Tiana Mericle); Manson Northwest Webster (Kim Hokinson, Ellie Herzberg, Michelle Dolder, Cloie Herzberg).
High jump - Dijana Hammond, East Sac County, soph.; Brooke Runneberg, Laurens-Marathon, jr.
Shot put - Tyffaney Toms, South Central Calhoun; Macey Bales, Pocahontas Area, sr.
"Cray proved he belongs and is one of the best runners in the state," FDSH head coach John McBride said. "He's had a sore hamstring, but he'll be 100-percent by Friday.
"I'm excited to see him get out there and go. We told him he should be proud to have the fastest time in the state."
Washington is a veteran of both Drake and the state meet, running there the last two years.
"I don't think he's going to have any problem with the atmosphere," McBride said. "He's used to the whole situation."
Washington will run the anchor in the 4x100, joining Keegan Myers, Sam Cook and Zach Anderson. They have a time this year of 44.07, while Iowa City High holds the high-standard with a 43.68.
JC Hatcher had qualified, but an injury will keep him from running.
"We were sitting there eighth for a long time (in terms of seeding), but we got bumped down to 12th and I'm happy with that," McBride said. "It gets us out of lane eight in the fastest heat, which is a difficult lane to run out of, and into the second lane.
"Cray and Keegan have both been to Drake, and Sam place third at state wrestling as a sophomore, so I'm not concerned about experience from any of them."
Ninth-grader Shariah Smith qualified for the 100 field thanks to her run of 12.62. Jalynn Roberts-Lewis from Des Moines Roosevelt holds the fastest time in the field at 12.09.
She will run in the first heat and lane three.
"Shariah's seen fast kids all year and we're excited to see what she can do," FDSH head coach Todd Constable said. "This is just a great event for her, especially as a freshman, to get down there and face the best."
Smith, Car'Maiya Mosley, Lexi Astor and Tiana Mericle will run the 4x100 for the Dodgers after clocking a 51.57 earlier this year.
"For Lexi and Tiana to get down there as seniors is a great accomplishment," Constable said. "Anybody that hasn't been down there, (Drake) is just an incredible event. It's a real eye-opener for anybody."
Davenport Assumption's 48.53 is the top time in the state by over a half-second.
Algona will be well represented on the blue oval, as Bo Hjelle has qualified in both the 800 and 1600, while the sprint medley relay of Keagan Zwiefel, Joe Teague, Esden Carroll and Hjelle will also compete.
Hjelle's 800 time of 1:56.98 is the second-fastest in the state behind only Ben Ahlrichs of Monticello The sprint medley is tied for second with Dowling at 3;33.31, just behind Linn-Mar's best of 3:33.17.
South Central Calhoun's Jake Petzenhauser is entered in the 400-meter hurdles, along with running on the 4x100 and shuttle hurdley relay events.
Joining him on the 4x100 will be Kyler Casey, Sam Spencer and Kody Case, while Kyler Case, Matt Nieland and Kody Case round out the shuttle hurdle.
Emmetsburg's Allen Jensen is in the field for the 110-meter hurdles.
On the girls side, the Titans have Tyffaney Toms in the shot put and Ashley Henkenius in the 100-meter dash.
Manson Northwest Webster's Ellie Herzberg is in the 100 field, along with running in the 4x100 alongside Kim Hokinson, Michelle Dolder and Cloie Herzberg.
Webster City's Allie Flaws is also in the 100 with Herzberg and Smith.
East Sac County's Dijana Hammond and Brooke Runneberg from Laurens-Marathon qualified for the high jump, while Macey Bales of Pocahontas Area made the shot put field.