Parents of State Track Meet Athletes Guaranteed Tickets Amid Debate Over Crowd Size

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DES MOINES, Iowa — Iowa’s State Track Meet is a more exclusive event in 2021 than in past years, but parents of athletes will have first dibs on seats.

Drake University athletic director Brian Hardin stated in a letter to Gov. Kim Reynolds that each student-athlete will receive two tickets for loved ones due to an increased capacity at Drake Stadium. In the letter, he mentions the capacity will be similar to the Kentucky Derby, in which Churchill Downs was about 33 percent full.

The change is welcome news to Justin Elefson and his son J.D., a runner for North Polk High School. Elefson struggled to find a ticket to watch his son in the Drake Relays last month, and he says he’s relieved to know he’ll have a seat for the State Track Meet.

“He’s played multiple sports throughout his life, and we don’t miss anything,” Elefson said. “Knowing that we have a seat ahead of time is going to make this two week period more enjoyable.”

Gary Ross of the Iowa Girls High School Athletic Union also believes having parents in the stands is important.

“We sure want mom and dad to be able to be there to support them,” Ross said. Those our are priorities, and we want the student-athlete at the center of it all.”

The news comes as Gov. Reynolds pressured Hardin to eradicate capacity limits for the State Track Meet through a letter. In the memo, Reynolds said the limit on fans “defies all logic and common sense of what we know and have learned about COVID-19.”

Elefson said he is disappointed more family members cannot come, but remains grateful that he and his wife can.

“It’s challenging, but we’re thankful that we’re at least going to have the opportunity for the parents,” Elefson said.

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