After more than a three-decade absence, the Beloit Relays return to Karris Track & Field at Strong Stadium on Friday and Saturday, April 26-27.
“It’s a little surreal actually,” said Brian Bliese, Head Track & Field Coach. “We’ve been talking about it for what seems like a long time and now it’s here. It’s reality. It’s really exciting for the team.”
From its beginning in 1937 thru 1979, when significant changes in Academia caused the discontinuation of the event, the Relays ranked right up with the Drake Relays or Penn Relays as a destination for the best in collegiate track & field.
The Relays were the brain-child of Lou Means, Beloit College’s Athletic Director in the mid-thirties, who thought the brand-new Strong Stadium needed a featured event. With the blessing of then-President Irving Maurer, Means went ahead with his idea and on Friday, May 28, 1937, the Beloit Relays were held for the first time.
A one-day event at the time, the first Relays included, in addition to the home team, representatives from Augustana, Bradley, Carroll, Coe, Cornell, Dubuque, Lawrence, North Central, Ripon and Wheaton. 146 athletes from the 11 competing schools participated in events including relays and hurdles in a variety of distances plus field events. Fireworks marked the close of the Relays at 10:30 p.m. followed by Relay Queen “Corki” Crain presenting plaques to each winning relay team as well as bronze medals depicting Strong Stadium to the top athletes. Coe College won the first team championship, just ahead of the home squad.
Times have changed but the Buccaneers are anxious to bring the tradition back.
In addition to the exciting competition on Friday and Saturday, the stadium will welcome Beloit alumni who ran in past Relays, the Beloit College Trustees, and many of the donors whose gifts led to the 2011 refurbishing of the turf and track, including the family of Nick Karris'58, the lead donor behind that work and the namesake of the new facilities. The Track & Field teams, as well as both the Men’s and Women’s Lacrosse teams, are wearing special patches throughout the season in honor of Karris, who died suddenly and unexpectedly in December. The Buccaneer Football team will also wear the special patch during the upcoming 2013 season.
"The return of the Beloit Relays is historic, energizing, and so exciting,” said Director of Athletics and Recreation Peggy Carl. “We could not be more thrilled to attract the institutions back to the Relays that we have and we look forward to growing the meet and returning it to its glory days."
Action begins on Friday at 5:00 p.m. when the Men’s and Women’s Discus and Javelin will be contested. Running events begin at 6:00 p.m. with the 4x800m Relay, followed by the 3000m Steeplechase, the 4x200m Relay, and the 10000m.
On Saturday, the Hammer gets things going for the field events at 11:30 a.m. Running events begin at 12:30 p.m. with 4x100m Relay. The Relays wrap up with the Spotlight Event featured Mile.