SIOUX FALLS, S.D. (KELO) — The pandemic canceled all spring high school sports last year, including the Dakota Relays. But Howard Wood Field will once again host the relays this year, though the meet may look a bit different than years past.
The 96th Dakota Relays at Howard Wood Field are being held one year after the 95th running was canceled.
“Last year was the first year that we knew we weren’t going to have a meet because they were shutdown. We’ve had cancellations before due to weather, but never before due a pandemic,” Howard Wood Dakota Relays Board of Directors President Bill O’Connor said.
The Dakota Relays Board met in November, and were determined to make this year’s event happen.
“We knew we were going to have a meet. We just weren’t sure what the set up was going to be,” O’Connor said.
This year’s relays will be just high school athletes competing.
“We took a serious look into do we have college on one day and high school the other, and the board decided it was best just to get it down to provide this for the high school athletes,” O’Connor said.
The field will be much smaller than years past too.
“It’s a smaller field than ever before. To even get into the meet this year is going to be really difficult for teams and coaches,” Dakota Relays Board of Directors Member Kristi Reiger said.
There will be no warmup area in the infield, as it’s been moved behind the stands on the northeast side of the stadium.
“Instead we’ve moved over the pole vault to the middle of the football field so that the spectators will be able to see that event in a more up close fashion,” O’Connor said.
Crowds won’t be limited though after the Sioux Falls School District announced it was lifting attendance restrictions for outdoor sporting events last week.
“We are open for business for everyone to come and enjoy a great track and field meet. To see the finest high school runners in the area participate,” O’Connor said.
While this year’s relays may be different, the excitement remains at an all-time high.
“Just for us to be able to be back to track and field and to the sport that we all love is really, really exciting for us. I just can’t wait till Friday afternoon when that first event goes off,” Reiger said.
The Dakota Relays begin on Friday and conclude on Saturday. This year’s specials will be the girls 200 and boys 800 meter races. Competitors for those events will be announced tomorrow night.