Dowling Catholic girls' shuttle relay team crowned champions after Waukee DQ The Des Moines Register
The Blue Oval will be again the center of the track and field world this week, as the Drake Relays are here for the 110th time.
Events run from April 24-27 at Drake Stadium. The field is loaded with high school, college and professional talent, and there will be no shortage of entertainment for fans flocking to Des Moines this week.
Here are some of the top storylines to watch at this year's Drake Relays.
Brand-new champions in boys' individual events
All boys' high school champions at last year's Drake Relays were seniors, so we'll have a fresh field of title-winners this year.
Bettendorf senior Darian Porter is one of the bigger track stars to watch. An Iowa State football signee, Porter is the favorite in the 400 meters, for which he qualified first with a time of 48.51 seconds. He also has run the fourth-fastest 100-meter time in the state this year at 10.81 seconds, just 0.07 seconds off Sioux City East's Ardell Inlay, who has run Iowa's fastest time.
Ankeny senior Tim Sindt could also go home with two titles. The reigning boys' cross country champion and Iowa State recruit enters the Drake Relays with Iowa's second-best time in the 1,600 meters (4:24.40) and fifth-best time in the 3,200 meters (9:35.24). Sindt is also competing in the 800.
If we're looking at possible multiple-event champions in the field events, Lewis Central junior Logan Jones stands out. The Iowa football recruit enters the Drake Relays with the state's longest discus throw at 176 feet, 7 inches, and the fifth-longest shot put at 55-10.
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Three defending champions headline girls' field
The girls' side, meanwhile, will feature a trio of defending champions — including one athlete hoping to defend her crown in two events.
Tipton senior Jamie Kofron won both the discus and shot put last year with throws of 143 feet and 45-5½, respectively. She enters this year's competition with Iowa's second-best discus throw (144-5) and second-best shot put (45-4¾). She trails only South Hardin senior Brylie Zeisneiss in both events.
Davenport Assumption senior Carly King will be at the Blue Oval, but she won't compete in the 100 meters, which she won last year with a time of 11.99 seconds. She is the favorite, however, in the 400; she boasts the state's best time in that event this year at 56.39.
Council Bluffs Abraham Lincoln senior Darby Thomas is back after dominating the field with a long jump of 18-8½ to win the event last year. She's looking to become a three-time Drake Relays champion, as she also won as a sophomore with a jump of 18-4. Thomas enters the competition with Iowa's third-best jump at 18-4¼.
The queen is back
Keni Harrison, the world record holder and three-time defending Drake Relays champ, will return to Des Moines to defend her women's 100-meter hurdles crown.
Beyond running the world record time of 12.20 seconds, Harrison also boasts three of the other top-10 times ever run by an American in the event.
She'll have good competition, though. Nia Ali, the 2016 Olympics silver medalist, will be running, as will Great Britain's Cindy Ofili, who finished fourth in the 2016 Olympics. Last year's Drake Relays runner-up, Tobi Amusan, will be there, too.
A loaded men's hurdles field
Six Olympians and the defending champions from both events headline the men's 110-meter hurdles and 400-meter hurdles fields.
Former Arkansas Razorback Omar McLeod will be the favorite in the 110-meter hurdles. He owns the Jamaican national record in the event. He was the 2016 Olympic gold medalist and boasts the fifth-fastest time ever at 12.90 seconds. He'll look to take home his third Drake Relays title.
To get there, he'll have to beat defending champion Devon Allen, who also ran in the 2016 Olympics. He is fresh off a USA Championship indoor victory in the 60-meter hurdles.
The other 2016 Olympians in the 110-meter hurdles field: Canada's Jonathan Cabral, who finished seventh at Drake last year; American Eddie Lovett, who finished sixth; and Serbia's Milan Ristic, who finished fifth.
In the 400-meter hurdles, 2016 Olympian and last year's Drake Relays champion Jeffrey Gibson will look to defend his title.
Familiar face in the women's heptathlon
Back in 2010, 14-year-old Minnesota native Shaina Burns became the youngest competitor in a Drake Relays women's invitational event when she took part in the women's heptathlon.
Now, nine years later, after a successful collegiate career at Texas A&M, Burns is back competing in the same event as a rookie professional.
Say hey, hall-of-famers
There will be three new additions to the Drake Relays Hall of Fame this year: Illinois head coach Mike Turk, Olympian Reese Hoffa and 18-time All-American Celena Mondie-Milner.
Turk will be the 88th addition to the Drake Relays Coaches Hall of Fame. He has coaches 81 NCAA All-Americans while in Champaign. He has also led his team to 10 Drake Relays titles during his eighth seasons as Illinois' head coach.
Hoffa and Mondie-Milner are inductees No. 218 and 219 in the Drake Relays Athletes Hall of Fame.
Hoffa was a four-time All-American shot-putter at Georgia and a four-time Drake Relays champion. He returned to the Blue Oval several times after college, winning in 2005 and 2013 and finishing second in 2004, 2010 and 2011. He competed in the 2004, 2008 and 2012 Olympics — he earned bronze in London.
Mondie-Milner is the most decorated athlete in Illinois track and field history, having earned 17 Big Ten individual and relays titles in addition to her 18 All-American honors. The sprinter was named the most outstanding women's performer at the 1988 Drake Relays.
Matthew Bain covers recruiting, Iowa/Iowa State athletics and Drake basketball for the Des Moines Register and USA TODAY Network. Contact him at email@example.com and follow him on Twitter @MatthewBain_.