DES MOINES, Iowa – Festivities on Thursday at the 113th Drake Relays include Arkansas women’s head coach Lance Harter being inducted into the Drake Relays Coaches Hall of Fame along with the late Ralph Lindeman, former head coach at the U.S. Air Force Academy.
The induction of Harter and Lindeman will increase membership in the Drake Relays Coaches Hall of Fame to 91. The Coaches Hall of Fame was established in 1977 with charter members John L. Griffith (Drake), Harry Gill (Illinois), Tom E. Jones (Wisconsin), Clyde Littlefield (Texas), Leo Johnson (Illinois) and Bill Easton (Drake and Kansas).
“I think it’s more of a recognition of the history and legacy Arkansas women’s track and field has held there,” stated Harter. “They’ve got to figure out an individual to spotlight and that fell on me. They singled me out to be the representative to take the bow for all the athletes that have done this incredible history at the Drake Relays.
“We’ve won multiple championships there as well as the team championship in 2015. We’ve had numerous successes in individual events there as well as relay success. It’s kind of a culmination over the years of athletes doing a great job representing Arkansas.”
Last year on this weekend, Harter had a crew travel to the Penn Relays in Philadelphia where the Razorbacks set a collegiate record in winning the 4 x 1,500m title. A younger crew will experience the Drake Relays this season.
“Last year we took some athletes to the Penn Relays, and they were literally stunned at the attendance and the attention that a relay meet draws,” noted Harter. “I think we want to give that same experience to our young people, because we are going to be pretty young going there, to let them witness what those relay carnival atmosphere is like.
“The blue oval at Drake is unique and what’s really special about it is sometimes the weather is challenging, but it gives that extra deep effort to be able rise to a great race or great culmination of events on that particular day. We’re looking forward to that challenge again.”
Razorbacks competing at the famed Drake Relays on Thursday and Friday includes Iowa native Ainsley Erzen, who is in her freshman season at Arkansas, where she is a member of the Razorback soccer team along with track and field.
“It’s super exciting, all my favorite high school memories were made in Drake Stadium,” noted Erzen. “So, just having the opportunity to go back and make some more with a new team is really exciting.
“I’m really excited to bring my new friends at Arkansas to the Drake Relays, show them around and show them all my favorite things about Drake. I’ll get to be a tour guide for the weekend. It’ll be a lot of fun.”
Erzen will be part of an Arkansas 4 x 800m relay that competes on Friday evening in Drake Stadium along with Lainey Quandt, Analisse Batista, and Katie McCune.
“One of my favorite high school memories is running relays with my high school team at Drake,” said Erzen. “So, getting to come back and relive that with a new group of super-talented girls, that are some of my best friends, is going to be a lot of fun. I’m really looking forward to it.
“Having family and friends at the meet, getting to see me for the first time in a college race is going to be super exciting. The fact that it gets me back home is super special.”
In individual events at the Drake Relays, Erzen was a double winner in 2021, claiming titles in the 400m and 800m while competing for Carlisle HS. In 2022, Erzen completed another double victory in the 800m and 1,500m while finishing runner-up in the 400m.
Razorbacks racing in the seeded 5,000m races, starting around 7:30 p.m. on Thursday, include Claire McCune, Laura Taborda, Julia Paternain, Gracie Hyde, and Nyah Hernandez.
Competition on Friday will have a trio of Razorbacks racing in the 1,500m around 6:45 p.m. That group includes Mary Ellen Eudaly, Carmie Prinsloo, and Heidi Nielson.
Arkansas alum Logan Jolly will race in her first 3,000m steeplechase of the season on Friday evening. Jolly finished third in the 5,000m at the Bryan Clay Invitational a couple of weeks ago and her time of 15:29.08 is the current U.S. outdoor leader in 2023.