By STU SWARTZ
THE GOSHEN NEWS
Every few years on these pages we like to educate the younger generation on the history of The Goshen Relays.
The 71st edition of one of the Midwest’s larger boys track and field carnivals is scheduled for next Saturday at Foreman Field on the Goshen High School campus.
The inaugural Goshen Relays occurred on May 1, 1926 with the temperature soaring to 94 degrees by mid-afternoon.
There were 277 athletes from 20 schools entered in that debut extravaganza with about 1,000 spectators at Foreman which was only three years old at that time.
Gary Emerson was the team champion 87 years ago with Elkhart second and Goshen fifth.
Dan Yoder, John McNames, Alvin “Nate” Warstler and Bernard Paine of the host Redskins won a medley relay event in 1927. After the 1928 Relays, the event would disappear for 18 years.
Paul Underwood and Lundy Welborn are given credit for reviving The Goshen Relays on April 20, 1946 and it has been an annual event ever since.
It was also 67 years ago that Leroy “Toby” Yoder became the first honorary referee of The Relays and Barbara Stoner the first queen.
Jerry Rarick of the Goshen “Red Ramblers” set a Class A mile run record in 1947 with a time of 4:42 and received his award from queen Jane Schwalm and honorary referee R.B. Kelly.
The Gary Roosevelt Panthers won the first of their 26 Class A team championships in 1947 and many of those squads went on to capture state titles. The Black and Gold helped attract huge crowds to Foreman in those days.
Goshen's 880-yard relay foursome of Dick Cripe, Lynn Smalley, Bill Detwiler and Pug Hoover won its 1952 heat with honorary referee Gerald D. Phillips and queen Anna Chapman watching.
Max Truex of Warsaw was a distance running sensation that year. Lloyd “Bunk” Williams, GHS basketball great of the late 1920s, was honorary referee and Peg Berlin queen in 1954.
Lynn Smalley, Stan Warnick, Paul Hinckley and Bing Pratt of the Redskins won an 880-yard relay heat.
The 1960s featured some of the greater athletes in Relays history — like sprinter Bernie Rivers of East Chicago Washington and hurdler Jerry Saffell of the LaPorte Slicers.
Rivers’ 100-yard dash time of 9.6 seconds has been converted to 10.5 for 100 meters and he still shares that record.
GOING against track powerhouses like Roosevelt and Elkhart, the Goshen Redskins had few individual Relays champions in the early days.
Mike Miller of the Redskins won Class A long jump in 1971, Dave Myers shot put in 1972 and Joe Liechty the 100-yard dash in 1973 with a 9.9 clocking.
Bryan Warstler and Maurie Kline of the Redskins established themselves as the greatest distance running tandem in GHS history during the mid-1970s.
Both were three-time mile run champions (different heats) at the Relays from 1975-77 with Kline having a best time of 4:23.4 and Warstler 4:24.1. Both were also 880-yard run winners in their senior year.
The Redskins also had a couple standout hurdlers during that era with Brian Hoffman earning Relays “gold” in 1975, Neal Yoder in 1976 and 1977.
IT WAS also during the 1970s that Underwood, who retired as GHS athletic director, passed the Relays baton to Herb Resler and now it belongs to AD Larry Kissinger.
The Relays has truly been a community event with scores of volunteers showing up on a Saturday each April to help it run smoothly.
At the 50th Relays in 1992 “Spotty Gill” was in his 46th year as a helper with Hal Doriot, Jay Peffley and Dick Swartz in their 44th.
The Relays have also been special to our family with my grandfather Herb honorary referee in 1976, father Dick in 1992 and me in 2008.
A cousin, Marilyn Marquis, was queen in 1963.
Former Goshen News sports editors Dale Peffley (1965) and LeRoy Lambright (2000) were also honorary refs with Peffley joined by brothers Bob in 1975 and Jay in 1993.
In just six days, there will be another approximate 1,000 athletes from 40 schools adding their names to the Relays honor chart.
Let there be warmth and sunshine!