Jesuit-Sheaner Relays are honoring one of Lakewood's own
12:00 AM CST on Friday, March 24, 2006
Saturday marks the 42nd year of the Jesuit-Sheaner Relays. Although the track and field meet is in North Dallas at Jesuit College Preparatory School, its roots are in Lakewood. The event is named in honor of Herb Sheaner, 81, of Lakewood.
Jesuit has hosted the event since it began in 1964. Back then, it was just the Jesuit Relays. The goal was to provide top high school and collegiate athletes a chance to compete at a first-class venue. At that time, Jesuit had the only all-weather track in Texas.
After Herb retired as Jesuit track team head coach in 1975, the school honored his 21 years of service by naming the event after him.
Today, the Jesuit-Sheaner Relays are open to top male track and field performers from Class 4A and 5A public and private schools. The Elite Girls 1,600-meter run is open to top female athletes.
The relays are a fitting tribute to one of the kindest men I have known in my 18 years in Lakewood. Herb has many more stories to tell beyond his years at Jesuit.
While attending Texas A&M University, he was drafted to serve in World War II. During his time in the war, he landed in Normandy and fought at the Battle of the Bulge. He was captured by the enemy and placed in a German camp as a prisoner of war.
For his service in WWII, Herb earned the Bronze Star and Purple Heart. He talks humbly about pride in his fellow soldiers and never about his own bravery or sacrifice.
After the war, he continued his education at The University of Texas, where his love for track flourished.
"I decided to go out for track because the guys in the Army used to call me 'Speedy,' " Herb said. "I was lucky enough to be on the track team coached by Clyde Littlefield."
In 1955, Herb was asked to help coach Jesuit's newly formed track team. He has helped several Jesuit athletes earn state and national acclaim.
"Over the years, what I have enjoyed the most is watching the kids' progress in the sport of track and field," he said.
With the help of his son, Mike Sheaner (who graduated from Jesuit in 1975 and ran track under his dad's direction) and his daughter, Kelly Secker, Herb continues to help coordinate the Jesuit-Sheaner Relays.
This year, more than 78 schools will be represented from Texas, Oklahoma, Louisiana and Arkansas.
"Herb Sheaner is a wonderful man," said Steve Koch, Jesuit's athletic director. "He has been involved with our track program since the early days of the school. He brings back the remembrance of track of over 40 years in Dallas."
Lakewood resident Chris Gresback can be reached at email@example.com.