The USA Junior/Senior Outdoor Championships begin, today, June 23, 2010 in Des Moines, Iowa. Here is an interview with Mark Kostek, the Meet Director for the 2010 USA Junior
& Senior outdoors. We asked Mark for his perspectives on the event, Des Moines and the
success of track & field at Drake University.
We hope you enjoy the interview. RBR will be arriving early this evening from the five plus hour drive from Fort Atkinson, Wisconsin to Des Moines, Iowa! See you all soon!
Mark Kostek, Meet Director, USA Outdoor 2010
photo courtesy of Drake University
RBR, #1. How did you get into the sport?
Mark Kostek: I go my start in track and field as a youth growing up in Hartford, Conn., with the city parks program. Then pursued the sport in wholeheartedly in high school.
RBR,# 2. How did you get into sport management?
Mark Kostek: I started with sport management in 1980 when I took an assistant track coaching position at the University of Nebraska and helped with the operations of the TAC Jr. Olympics for a few years and then was the meet director for the 1986 and 1990 J.O Games. I also ran all of the University of Nebraska home competitions including the Big 8 & Big 12
Championships through 1999.
RBR, # 3. How long have you been managing the Drake Relays?
Mark Kostek: I managed the Drake Relays from the fall of 2000 - 2005. I had oversight of the renovation project of Drake Stadium in 2005-2006. I directed the 2007 NCAA Midwest Regional Championship and 2008 NCAA Championship.
RBR, 4. Why does the Drake Relays resonate with the local community so well?
Mark Kostek: With 101 years of history, the Drake Relays is part of the fiber that makes Drake University and the city of Des Moines a vibrant place to live.
RBR, 5. Now you have the US champs, what are the different challenges you see in putting on a US champs as to a major Relay meet?
Mark Kostek: The challenges are that you are dealing with the national governing body of our sport and they have certain standards that must be met.
We cannot do business as usual as if we were running the Drake Relays, this is the USATF's Championship, Drake University and the city of Des Moines are the event host, it is our responsibility to ensure that the standards set by the USATF are met and hopefully
RBR, # 6. What do you want the fans, coaches and athletes coming in to know about Drake and Des Moines?
Mark Kostek:Athletes and coaches enjoy competing at Drake Stadium because of the environment. They appreciate our knowledgeable fans who are right on top of the action. Runners love the blue oval track.
RBR, #7. Any resources you can suggest?
Mark Kostek: I encourage fans to go to www.seedesmoines.com for everything you want to know about the Des Moines metro area.
RBR, #8. Favorite places to visit in town, favorite restaurants must go to?
Mark Kostek: There are plenty of jogging trails in Des Moines including the scenic Gray's Lake area just south of downtown. I encourage people to visit the Des Moines Sculpture Garden, East Village, Court Ave. District. People can visit historic Valley Junction in West Des Moines as well as the Jordan Creek Mall area in West Des Moines.
RBR, # 9. You are managing the juniors and nationals, what challenges does that give you?
Mark Kostek:There really isn't a concern to host both the juniors and seniors. The number of competitors is not overwhelming. The only challenge is that we do our due diligence to ensure that every competitor has a great experience in our facility and city.
RBR, # 10. How has support been from local community for the US Outdoor?
Mark Kostek: We have a wonderful community and the support for track and field is always good.
RBR, #11. Who will be popular local athletes or athletes with local or Drake ties?
Mark Kostek: Lolo Jones, Jenny Barringer, Lisa Koll, Christian Cantwell, A.G. Kruger. Bernard Lagat, Chaunte Lowe, Jeremy Wariner to name a few. These athletes are either native Iowans or have been longtime crowd favorites at the Drake Relays.
RBR, #12. Any final reminders you would like to tell athletes, coaches on the USA Junior/Senior Outdoors?
Mark Kostek: Part of the longtime success of the Drake Relays rests with being an athlete and fan friendly event. We have a reputation that we're looking to uphold during the upcoming USA Championships. Don't be afraid to ask questions to our personnel at Drake Stadium. Midwesterners are know for their hospitality.
RBR, #13. Obviously, be prepared for Midwest summer weather, any suggestions or reminders for our readers there?
Mark Kostek: The weather should be great. The average temperature for the week of the championship is 82 degrees and rain chances are low.Come with expectations to witness amazing performances and be willing the let the athletes know that you appreciate their efforts. Be an active participant and enjoy Track Central USA.