AREA SPORTS NOTEBOOK By SCOTT JACKSON
---- — OTTUMWA — They’ll be coming from all over the world this week to run at the big blue oval in Des Moines.
For Sarah Yeager, she’ll be feeling right at home running at Drake Stadium.
The star senior for the Bulldog girls track team has already recorded a sparkling college career, coming off a prep career that was just as great at Cardinal High School. With talent that ranges from state championship hopefuls to those that battled for Olympic medals in London last summer surrounding her, Yeager will take her rightful place back on her home track as a part of what could be a busy couple of days at the 104th Drake Relays beginning on Friday morning.
For those expecting the young lady from rural Wapello County to have any stage fright when running on the same track this weekend as some like Lolo Jones, don’t expect it from someone like Yeager. The Drake Stadium track has been the site of some big moments over the years both at Cardinal, where Yeager set school records in the 100-meter dash, hurdles and 400 hurdles, or in her current role as the top runner in the same events for the Bulldogs.
Before she donned the blue and white of Drake, Yeager showed a knack for performing at high level in what would become her home away from home. Not only did Yeager make it to state and compete at Drake Stadium, she won a state championship to cap her high school career with a victory in the girls 1A 100-meter hurdles at 2009 state track and field meet.
Yeager just missed out on claiming four state titles, finishing second three times at state including second place consecutive years in the 400 hurdles. At Drake, Yeager hasn’t slowed down and made her way onto the Drake Relays stage as a freshman as part of a shuttle hurdle relay that set a school record at the 2010 Relays.
So far this season has been a spring full of success for Yeager as senior, starting with the first conference title on the final day of the Missouri Valley Conference Indoor Meet. Yeager took the 60-meter hurdles at the UNI Dome in Cedar Falls in 8.43 seconds to beat Indiana State’s Stacia Weatherford in a photo finish.
Yeager also added an outdoor hurdle win at the Ashford Spring Invitational in 13.9 seconds and was part of the Bulldogs’ victorious 4x400 relay team. Yeager also ran on winning 4x100 and 4x400 relays for Drake at the Musco Invite in Iowa City, but will have the momentum on her side of having won her last time out individually on the home track after winning in the 100 hurdles in the Bulldogs’ Jim Duncan Invitational two weeks ago.
Yeager credits Drake’s first-year hurdles and sprints coach LaRon Bennett for helping her make major strides in her senior year. The former University of Georgia standout and U.S. Olympic hopeful has helped make the Bulldog women’s track team a dominant force in both categories this season.
“LaRon helped spark motivation in all of us,” Yeager said. “He does not allow anyone to just go through the motions, he is right there saying things to you to make you try harder.”
Yeager’s schedule at the Drake Relays will begin Friday with the Women’s (College/University Division) 100-Meter Hudles Perlims at 9:32 a.m. Yeager will also run later in the day Friday at 2:52 p.m. in the 4x400 prelims.
Should she advance to both finals, Yeager would be running in three races on Saturday. The former Cardinal runner is already booked in the 400-meter hurdle finals at 1:17 p.m. and would run in 100 hurdle final at 2:38 p.m. and 4x400 relay final at 4:02 p.m. if she and her Drake teammates qualify.
Incredible legacy left by former Parsons College football coach Frosty Westering
He went on to do incredible things over a 40-year career. Things that went beyond just winning football games.
Sure, he did plenty of that over the years. Frosty Westering carved out a legendary 305-96-7 record over 40 seasons at three different schools, coaching with success on different colligiate levels.
Westering passed away earlier this month at the age of 85, causing several people to talk about a man that had earned so much respect for doing so much more than just winning football games. He brought his team together by truly paying attention to every detail and by making sure every individual was made to feel like a part of the team.
The native of Council Bluffs road to the College Football Hall of Fame started at nearby Parsons College in Fairfield, where Westering took over the Wildcats in 1962 for his first year as a head coach. It turned out to be one of his best as Parsons went undefeated with a 9-0 record in that initial year under Westering before going 5-4 the following season.
Westering would move on the next year to Lea College in Minnesota, compiling a 27-22-2 record over six seasons before heading to the great northwest for the stop that would make Westering a hall-of-fame coach. Taking over at Pacific Lutheran in Parkland, Washington, Westering would coach from 1972 to 2003, compiling a 262-70-5 record over 32 seasons while winning four national championships over that span.
But perhaps more importantly, Westering’s lasting legacy is the individual focus he invested into each individual player. Westering was remembered for his three-day “Breakaways,” where players swapped drills for team-building activities and bonding moments. His post-game tradition, called “Afterglows,” were known for hugs and compliments.
“A championship, in the world, gives you authenticity that you did it,” Westering told a Pacific Lutheran publication in 2003 shortly after retiring. “But that really doesn’t say anything until you ask, ‘What was the trip like?’ The trip was the greatest thing in life whether we won or lost.”