James Smith inducted into CB Relays Hall of Fame


Submitted photo by Maria Elena

2005 TJ graduate James Smith poses (center) with his former coaches during his induction to the CB Relays Hall of Fame on April 29, 2021. Pictured (L-R) are Pat Nepple, Doug Muehlig, Jay Conyers, Cyle Forney, Smith, John Kinsel Bob Nielsen, Dan Strutzenberg, and David Lutz.

Aubriana Mayer, Reporter

James Smith, 2005 CBTJ grad, was inducted in the CB Relays Hall of Fame at the CB Relays meet on Thursday, April 29.

Smith is a 2005 Thomas Jefferson alumni and a 2009 Iowa State alum.

“Without a doubt, one of the greatest TJ athletes of all time, if not the best,” said TJ Head Track Coach Bob Nielsen. Smith ran track and played football and basketball at Thomas Jefferson.

According to information provided by Coach Doug Muehlig, Smith is listed on the Iowa All-Time Best Track Performances in the handheld timed 100 meters tied for third with a converted :10.30 (:10.29) and tied for fourth on the mixed Hand-Held and FAT 200 times with a converted handheld time of :21.20 (:21.19)

Highlights on the blue track at the Drake Relays included earning the silver medal his senior year in the 100 meters after claiming the fourth-place medal in the 100 his junior year.

At the 4A Iowa State Championship meet his senior year, Smith finished fourth in the 100 meters to earn Elite All-State honors, plus earning the fifth-place medal in the 200 meters.  His sophomore year Smith grabbed the 6th place medal in the 100 meters overcoming injuries.

Smith was a five-time Missouri River Conference Champion with Golds in the 100 as a sophomore and 4 x 400 as a junior.  His three wins as a senior in the 100, 200, and 4 x 100 relay set meet records at the time with the 100 and 200 marks still standing as MRC standards.

Still on the Tee Jay Track Record Board are school marks set in 2005 as senior of handheld times of :10.29 in the 100 meters, :21.29 in the 200 meters, and anchoring leg of the 4 x 100 relay in :43.29.

In football, Smith played three years at running back, safety, and linebacker for the Jackets at the varsity level for then Coach Dan Strutzenberg.  He was a two-way starter who earned Second Team All-State honors and was a three-time All-Missouri River Conference selection, while serving as a captain for his team.

“James was a very good student in school,” said Strutzenberg. “He was a leader but he was a quiet leader. He was not a ‘raw’ kind of kid. He worked hard and so when he worked hard, the other athletes around him wanted to work harder as well, which elevated our athletic programs and all things he participated in.”

2005 Graduate James Smith seen running at a track meet in 2005. (Photo courtesy of Jacket Journalism Yearbook)

At Iowa State, Smith excelled at football in Big 12 action playing four years from 2006-2009 (with a redshirt in 2005).  He was a rare two-year captain, who led the team his junior year in tackles from his safety position. Honors included Honorable Mention All-Big 12 (2008 Associated Press and Coaches).

Smith was also a three-year varsity starter for then Thomas Jefferson Basketball Coach Dave Lutz.

“Just like any kid that goes out for more than one sport, or the sport that you love, every other sport is also going to help you develop skills that you need,” said Strutzenberg. “When he wanted to go play college football, he needed to be fast cause you can’t have slow players. So going out for track helped him with his speed. Basketball helped his agility because he played defense in back.”

After graduating from Iowa State University, Smith began his career at Polk County Juvenile Detention Center in Des Moines, IA as a Youth Service Worker. In his fifth year, Smith was promoted to Team Leader. He will be celebrating his 11th year with Polk County this June.

Smith has been coaching football for the past four years at West Des Moines Dowling Catholic High School, and this spring is his first year serving as an assistant sprint coach there.

Currently, Smith resides in West Des Moines with his family: Maria Elena, and sons Eli and Ellis.