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July 13, 2023

Making Ames High History at the Drake Relays

Ames High School’s legacy of excellence at the Drake Relays continues to shine brightly as the storied event showcased the school’s remarkable athletic prowess. Year after year, the Little Cyclones have left an indelible mark on this prestigious track and field competition, etching their names into the annals of history. However, in the 2023 Drake Relays, Ali Frandsen stole the show, emerging as a true champion by securing victories in two events and being named a most outstanding performer. Frandsen’s achievements testify to Ames High’s rich tradition and the unwavering dedication of its exceptional athletes.

Throughout the years, Ames High’s track and field team has showcased its prowess in various events, securing numerous victories and setting new records. In 1938, Fritz Black soared to new heights, capturing the first-place finish in the broad jump with a record-breaking leap of 21-8.75. A first-place finish in the two-mile relay also in 1938 gave Ames their first two wins at the historic event.

The 1940s saw the continued dominance of Ames High’s athletes at the Drake Relays. Rolland Knight cleared a height of 5-11 in the high jump in 1944. Stanley DeLaHunt triumphed in the discus throw with a remarkable distance of 141.82 feet in 1945. The following year, the relay teams proved their mettle, clinching victories in the half-mile and quarter-mile relays, establishing Ames High’s reputation as a force to be reckoned with.

In the late 1940s and early 1950s, Albert Ballard, Jim Robertson, and Ed McDowell carried the torch for Ames High, setting new records in the broad jump, shot put, and discus throw events. These outstanding performances solidified Ames High’s status as a perennial powerhouse at the Drake Relays.

As the decades passed, Ames High continued producing remarkable athletes who excelled at the Drake Relays. From the dynamic relay teams of the 1950s to early 1960s, led by the likes of Bob Covey, to the individual triumphs of Tom Landsberg in the broad jump and Dave Powell in the mile run in the late 1960s, the Little Cyclones consistently left their mark on the prestigious event.

In the 1970s, Marc Sakamoto electrified the crowd with his blazing speed, capturing the top spot with a time of 9.8 seconds in the 100-yard dash in 1973. Other wins in the 1970s included a mile relay victory in 1975, and a 440-yard relay win in 1976. The 1980s saw the emergence of Phil Brackelsburg, who soared over hurdles in record time, and the pole vaulting prowess of Brock Kelly. Additionally, future USC Trojan Karen Koellner won the open 800-meter dash in 1985 with a time of 2:15.12. 

In the 1990s Ames High athletes like Dustin Avey, Andy Kohler, Erin Maysent, and Aaron Greving etched their names into the Drake Relays history books. Avey’s blistering pace in the 400-meter hurdles in 1995, 51.94 seconds, is still a Drake Relays record. Andy Kohler’s impressive high jump performances highlighted the 1999 (6-11) and 2000 (6-9) Relays. The girls’ 4×100 team shined from 1989 to 1996, winning the event each year but one. 

The girls won their own flags in 2019 in the shuttle hurdle relay. In 2021, Aniey Akok showcased his speed and endurance, clinching victory in the boys’ 800-meter race and anchoring the triumphant boys’ distance medley relay team. The girls’ team also made a resounding impact, winning the Relay Cup and three relays: 4×200 meter, 4×800 meter, and sprint medley relay. 

The remarkable achievements of Little Cyclones, past and present, exemplify the unwavering dedication and relentless pursuit of excellence that has become synonymous with Ames High’s track and field program.