Representation at the Drake Relays is always a big thing for high schools and colleges alike and for the A-D-M Tigers, not only do they find themselves well represented within the high school ranks, they also find themselves represented at the collegiate level. In large part, that representation has to do with former Tiger track star and current University of South Dakota Coyote Karina Dufoe.
The 2015 Adel-Desoto-Minburn graduate arrives back to her old high school stomping grounds where she still holds school records in the 100, 200, 400, 4x400, and sprint medley relay events while also wielding 100 and 200 meter titles from the Class 3A state championships. There’s no doubt of the great contributions to the Tiger brand over the years for Dufoe who spoke on what it’s like to be back on familiar ground.
“It’s pretty amazing, I remember running at the Drake Relays as an eigth grader,” began Dufoe. “It’s amazing to come back as an Iowa runner with the amazing crowd and atmosphere that the Drake Relays provides. Being from central Iowa and having the chance to run in the Drake Relays is something that I take pride in. My team (University of South Dakota) has a lot of Kansas and South Dakota runners and they talk about the Howard Wood Relays and Kansas Relays as being the best but I’m like now way, the Drake Relays are the best to go to.”
Something that not many people realize is just how advantageous familiarity with a track can be and Dufoe mentioned that such familiarity with the blue oval could give her a leg up on the competition.
” I know what that track feels like and that actually makes a big difference,” said Dufoe. “With the University of South Dakota, our conference meet is in Oklahoma and so we added a meet earlier in the season so we could go down and familiarize ourselves with the track surface so knowing the track surface is a big deal and I feel that I have a slight advantage with having already ran at the Drake Relays.”
Since her old days as an A-D-M Tiger, Dufoe has gone on to fully embrace the collegiate track and field scene with great success. In her sophomore season, Dufoe set a personal best in the 60 meters to move to fourth all time in the USD record books within the indoor season. Similar success has followed into the outdoor season where Dufoe earned all Summit League conference honors in the 100 meter dash. Those are just a few of her second year successes and now in her junior year Dufoe continues to etch her name into the history books.
Of course, with all the success that Karina has and continues to experience, she has never forgotten where all of that success stems from.
“I owe a lot to my high school coaches,” began Dufoe. “They really helped me become a strong athlete by helping me with my drive and ability to be a good teammate. Without them I wouldn’t be as strong as I am today.”
That humble yet competitive nature of Dufoe has allowed her to grown both mentally and physically in the sport of track which came in handy the moment she stepped onto the collegiate track and field scene. Dufoe talked about the biggest difference between track and field from the high school level to the college level.
“The biggest difference includes the level of training,” began Dufoe. “In high school your time is divided up between many different sports while here (in college) we start training in August and keep going until around June. The technique improves a lot and the minute details that you don’t focus on in high school that you didn’t even notice get completely changed within the first three weeks of your freshman year. The first three weeks I was here I hardly put on my spikes and instead focused on revamping the way I pushed off the ground. All of that helps bring your time down.”
All of that revamping has helped Dufoe to make it into two events within the Drake Relays, something that less than a quarter of athletes ever get to do across any level. Dufoe will be participating in the women’s 100 and 200 meter dash, both events that have claimed her state wide accolades in high school and conference wide recognition in college.
While some athletes find it hard to choose their favorite of two events, especially two in the Drake Relays, Karina Dufoe does not hesitate when describing her favorite.
“I really love the 200 (meters),” said Dufoe. “In the 100 I almost don’t have time to think, I blink and it’s over. In the 200 there’s just so much thought and when I look back at a race I can pinpoint recognize, here’s where I’m getting tall, here’s where I’m pushing off and accelerating. I can go back and look at all those mental cues that I’m subconsciously telling myself and make sure I’m doing all the things right.”
Doing things right has been a staple for this collegiate junior and she’ll look for two more right moves today as she takes on the women’s 100 meter dash beginning at 2:34 p.m. and the 200 meter dash beginning at 5:13 p.m.