DES MOINES | There's this myth that Iowa gets a massive storm each year at Girls State Basketball Tournament time.

The legend grows with each passing "Not Too Sweet 40'' when barely a snow flake falls here in the Capital City.

It is more of a truism that rain will fall every April on "America's Track Classic'' the Drake Relays.

Athletes were urging for the rain to go away here Saturday.

Didn't happen, but that, as usual, didn't hamper performance or keep fans away from Drake Stadium and its environs. The diehards are always prepared with thousands of dollars of expensive rain gear.

A visit to the hammer throw venue almost left you crying in the rain primarily because it might have prevented A.G. Kruger, Siouxland's resident Olympian, from reaching the Rio qualifying "A'' standard of 255 feet, 1 inch and possibly erasing his Drake Stadium record in the event.

The Sheldon High and Morningside grad and current University of South Dakota throws coach, representing Nike and competing unattached in the university/college event, had the best hurl of 240 feet, 5 inches.

Winning the event was Justin Baker, a Bishop Heelan graduate, with a best of 212 feet, 8 inches.

Kruger was kept busy mentoring the USD throwers in the event.

Kruger has competed for the U.S. in the 2004, 2008 and 2012 Games. He has a career best of 260 feet. His main rival, Kibwe Johnson, has a best of 266-9.

The two will meet in the event's Olympic Trials at in Eugene, Oregon, on July 6. The event will be staged on the infield of legendary Hayward Field so fans will be able to witness an event normally held far from the madding track and field crowd.

The male and female hammer throwers will have complete fan attention. They're the only Olympic hopefuls competing that day.

Jenks finally wins (subhead)

You've likely been hearing and reading lately that Stephanie Jenks, a Linn-Mar High School senior, is arguably the premier female track athlete in Iowa prep history. That could well be the case.

Saturday, Jenks finally won her record ninth Drake Relays title, taking the 1,500 meters after settling for runner-up finishes in the 800 and 3,000.

Just to refresh your memories, Our Town's Shelby Houlihan also won eight Drake championships and, like Jenks, several prep titles.

Jenks actually finished second in one of those 2014 Drake Relays races, an 800, but was awarded first place when the winner, junior Kaley Ciluffo of Pleasant Valley, was stripped of the win for competing against college-level athletes in some meets.

Ciluffo, now a freshman cross country athlete at Clemson, and her Pleasant Valley team was also stripped of a state track championship by the Iowa Girls High School Athletic Union's Board of Directors.

Ciluffo wasn't eligible for the 2015 track season.

Jenks, too, was banned from Iowa prep cross country competition for doing the same. She was the harrier state 4A champ as a freshman, but then opted to not compete at the prep level the rest of her career her because of outside competition.

Houlihan, now running professionally, enjoyed an All-American career at Arizona State, including NCAA titles.

Interestingly, Jenks will compete at California-Berkley where Houlihan's sister, Shayla, is the distance running coach.

Shayla is an international level competitor in the 3,000 steeplechase, an event Jenks may try since she's an accomplished triathlon competitor, too.

Say what? (subhead)

Shakespeare penned that, ah, divine comedy "Much Ado About Nothing'' but not sure where or when the oft-quoted idiom "make a mountain out of a molehill'' originated.

Both certainly fit the folderol over NFL draft pick Laremy Tunsil.

You've been hibernating in a cave, of course, if you missed this news.

Being a sports hater doesn't exonerate you. My gosh, the story led national news on television and radio, which, in itself, is sick considering the ills of the world more worthy of attention.

But, that's the brilliance of NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell and his marketing folks.

The video showing Tunsil, smoking something (allegedly pot) while wearing a gas mask and the inane media gathering after his selection by Miami was a stroke of marketing genius.

One astounded reporter blared that the incident would cost Tunsil eight million dollars.

Really? If he's as good as Mel Kiper Jr. and his ilk spout he'll make that up in a year or so and then qradruple the figure.


Sports editor

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