DES MOINES — Reiver blue makes its blue oval debut this week.
Iowa Western, in its sixth track season, will be competing at the Drake Relays for the first time.
The Reivers qualified 15 athletes in eight events for the prestigious meet on the blue track. They have four men competing in two individual events and three men’s and women’s relay teams running.
“It’s a tough meet to get into. The standards are set pretty high,” IWCC coach Emmett Statzer said. “Hopefully, we can go there with the kids that we’ve got and bring something home.”
In both the men’s and women’s 400-meter, 1,600-meter and sprint medley relays, Iowa Western will compete in the College Division with all non-NCAA Division I teams. Men’s 100-meter qualifiers Corneil Lionel and Rodrigo Rocha and twin triple jumpers Latario and Lathone Collie-Minns will participate in the University-College Division, which includes collegiate athletes from all levels.
Prior to this spring, the Drake Relays did not include athletes from junior colleges. But after plenty of behind-the-scenes lobbying, all four track teams in the Iowa Community College Athletic Conference were allowed to submit entries.
Statzer said the ICCAC schools have questioned the past policy for years. He’s glad it has been altered.
“We have some of the top junior college athletes and programs in the nation,” he said. “Why are we not having these kids showcased at this meet? We can go to every other meet in the nation. It’s nice to get the opportunity to showcase some talent there.
“It’s going to be a unique experience to get in at the meet, not just for us but for the other junior colleges in Iowa. It’s always awesome. It’s one of the biggest meets in the Midwest. Hopefully, we show up and represent well.”
Latario Collie-Minns looks like the Reivers’ best chance to land a Drake champion. His indoor mark of 53 feet, 11¾ inches at Nebraska in February is the longest triple jump in the nation by any college athlete this year. He is, however, coming off a hamstring injury and has yet to jump outside this spring.
Lathone Collie-Minns ranks eighth in the NJCAA, as do IWCC’s 400 relay teams. The women’s 1,600 relay is seventh nationally. All of the other Reiver entries are ranked 16th or better. Rocha was the 2012 NJCAA indoor national champion in the 200.
IWCC’s Drake participants
Women: Shayla Luckett, Cierra Jones, Tyesa Carey-Walker, SidReshia Floyd, Petrene Plummer, Catrina Harris. Men: Lathone Collie-Minns, Latario Collie-Minns, Corneil Lionel, Rodrigo Rocha, Denzel Washington, Anthony Powell, Sharod Selph, Gemechu Godi, Andre Hosey.