Area runners head to Drake

DES MOINES – Despite the lack of outdoor practice time and meets, the Fort Dodge and St. Edmond boys and girls track teams will still have an opportunity to showcase their talents with a combined seven entries at this weekend’s 104th running of the Drake Relays.

High school action begins today at 4:10 p.m. with the girls 3000 meter run inside Drake Stadium.

Sophomore Cray Washington (100), the 4×100 and the 4×200 relays will all compete on the famed blue oval for the Dodger boys.

“The kids and I talked (Wednesday), and I told them just to enjoy the experience and soak it all in,” FDSH head coach John McBride said. “(With the inclement weather conditions), it has been difficult. Obviously when you look at the times, they’re not as good as they’ve been in the past. We really haven’t had a great day to run yet. I would just like to see us try and get faster in everything.”

Washington, a 2012 Class 4A state qualifier in the 200, will run in heat 3 and lane 1. He owns the state’s 28th fastest 100 time this season at 11.16.

“Cray is right about where he was running last year,” said McBride. “On a good day with nice weather, I wouldn’t be surprised to see him go 11 flat or faster.”

Fort Dodge’s 4×100 is tied for 26th (44.58), while the 4×200 ranks 19th (1:31.80). Freshman Keegan Myers, senior Austin Anderson, classmate Keegan Jones and Washington will take part on both Dodger quartets. Senior Adrean Johnson and junior JC Hatcher are the alternates.

Last spring, the Dodger 4×100 placed first in its heat here and 36th overall in the prelims. Anderson, Jones and Washington were each members of that foursome.

“It’ll be interesting to see how fast both of those relays can go,” McBride said. “I was hoping to run JC on the 4×2, but he has a bad hamstring now, so I probably won’t be able to.”

Representing the Dodger girls is the 4×100 crew of senior Fatima Newsome, freshman Alexis Lessmeier and juniors Lexi Astor and Tiana Mericle, which enters tied with the 72nd (53.07) best clocking. Sophomore Carson Jarrard and junior Ashley Altman will serve as alternates.

“I’m just expecting us to get our times down and make a push for state here,” said FDSH head coach Todd Constable. “This will be a good experience for us, especially for Alexis Lessmeier, who has never been (at the Drake Relays) before.”

For the Gael boys, senior Hank Lentsch will look to shine in both the 110-hurdles and high jump. Lentsch checks in 31st in the 110-hurdles (15.38) and is tied for ninth in the high jump (6-05). A year ago, Lentsch tied for 13th in the 2A state high jump after settling for seventh as a sophomore. He also qualified for state in the 110-hurdles – an event in which he holds a school record. At the 2012 Drake Relays, Lentsch settled for ninth in the high jump.

“I’m very happy and excited for Hank to go down (to Des Moines),” SEHS head coach Bill Kibby said. “I’m hoping he can have a good day, but (qualifying for Drake) is just a tremendous accomplishment whether he does or doesn’t.”

Senior Hannah Lentsch – Hank’s twin sister – will be on hand for the St. Edmond girls in the high jump. Hannah, a two-time reigning 2A state high jump participant, is tied for fifth in the state with a mark of 5-04.

“Hannah’s been consistent at our three outdoor meets,” said Gael head coach Donn Larson. “She’s had a little hip flexor problem that has been bothering her, but she’s ready for (the high jump). I’m expecting her to do well.”