Pella's King takes crown as Drake Relays champion

Apr. 25—DES MOINES — Day one of three at the famed Blue Oval for the 114th Drake Relays saw the Pella Dutch nab three top three finishes including one champion on Thursday.

That champion came in the first high school event of the day as the boys throwers made their way to the Discus. Pella's Hanson King and Pella Christian's Trevor Veenstra both finished in the top eight a year ago and were both seeking a Drake Relays title this time around.

After the first three throws it was Veenstra sitting in third and King sitting in fourth behind Dowling Catholic's Nathan Rotherham and Williamsburg's Derek Weisskopf. Veenstra's best throw came in at 181-6 before he started the final with a grunt and big throw of 184-8 to take the lead. King would start the final with a solid throw of 178-10 and followed that with a 180-7 but he would still sit in fourth heading into his final throw.

King stepped into the circle and came up clutch with his best throw of the day at the perfect time as he road the headwind perfectly for a throw of 186-7 to leapfrog Veenstra.

"That last throw I just caught the wind perfectly and I was able to just get that last throw out there," King said. "It was a great feeling though. I was just trying to keep calm, I knew what I had to do and I was able to do it."

Veenstra was next to take the circle but his final throw would come in at 183-4 and would take runner-up for a second consecutive year. King and Veenstra have thrown against one another in many of the same meets over the years and it was Tulip Town one-two in Des Moines.

"Trevor is a great competitor," King said. "He's a good guy and I love competing against him because we do push each other a lot. He's a great thrower and it's been fun to be able to throw against him and have that competition all season long."

King and Veenstra will have a good chance to compete for another title on Friday in the boys Shot Put where they come in ranked first and second. But before that, King has plans to celebrate his Drake Relays title.

"Probably go get some crab rangoon from the Hawaiian food truck," King said with a laugh. "That's kind of the the optimal way to go out."

Back inside Drake Stadium, the girls High Jump was ready to get underway with 26 girls coming in and the bar starting at 5-foot-1. Oskaloosa sophomore Ryleigh Wilken has been improving all season long and was coming into Thursday fresh off setting a career best at 5-5.

Wilken started off strong by clearing the first bar at 5-1 in her first try to advance to the next round. Wilken clipped the bar at 5-3 on her first attempt but bounced back strong to clear it on her next try to solidify a spot in the top 14. Next up was 5-5 which she would need to clear again to continue on. Wilken knocked off the bar three times in a row and her day would end in a tie for eighth place overall. Panorama's Jaidyn Sellers would go on to win after clearing 5-7.

Wilken's strong showing and continued improvement should have her in the mix when she likely returns for the state meet later in May.

Thursday night would finish with a pair of distance races as Pella's Canaan Dunham would take to the Blue Oval. The Class 3A state cross country champion came in with the third fastest time and that would be where he would finish with a time of 9:04.01. Dunham hung with the leaders of Jaden Merrick of Cedar Falls and Ethan Zuber of Ankeny for the first seven laps before they would pull away. Merrick took the win with a time of 8:55.14.

Next up was another cross country champion in Marissa Ferebee as she had the tough task of chasing down WDM Valley's Addison Dorenkamp. As it would turn out, as the race went on it was Dorenkamp in a league of her own and Ferebee following with another sizable cushion between her and third place.

Dorenkamp took the win with a blistering time of 9:23.69 with Ferebee following in second at 9:42.89. Ferebee's time broke her own school record while setting a new personal best time that was also the seventh-best time all-time at the Relays.

Dunham and Ferebee will both compete again in the individual distances races in the 1600 and 1500, respectively, on Saturday.

High school action resumes at the Drake Relays on Friday morning.

Thursday Area Results

Boys Discus Finals: 1. Hanson King (Pella, 186-7), 2. Trevor Veenstra (Pella Christian, 184-8)

Girls High Jump Finals: T8. Ryleigh Wilken (Oskaloosa, 5-3)

Boys 3200 Finals: 3. Canaan Dunham (Pella, 9:04.01)

Girls 3000 Finals: 2. Marissa Ferebee (Pella, 9:42.89)

Colin Peters can be reached at 641-672-2581, by email at or on Twitter @ColinPetersOH.