The Jesuit-Sheaner Relays event has gained a reputation as the
area track and field meet to attend if you can go to only one.
Celebrating its 46th anniversary Saturday, the meet shows no signs of slowing down, just like its namesake, 85-year-old honorary meet director Herb Sheaner. Upon his retirement after a 20-year career Jesuit track and field coach in 1975, Sheaner's name was added to what began as the Jesuit Relays.
Field events begin at 8 a.m., running events start at 9 a.m. and running finals are scheduled to get under way at 2:30 p.m. at Haggar Stadium on Jesuit's campus in North Dallas.
The secret to the meet's longevity is competition.
"When I was coaching, I wanted to take my best athletes to the best meets to allow them to compete against the best," said Sheaner.
Competition at this year's meet should be especially fierce in the three relay races. DeSoto (4x100), Killeen Ellison (4x200) and Lancaster (4x400) have recorded the state's best times.
Kenneth Minkah of DeSoto and Lancaster's duo of Tyler Stephenson and Kendall Hayes will continue a South I-35 rivalry in the 110 high hurdles.
In the meet's only girls event, elite distance runner Chelsey Sveinsson of Greenhill will be challenged by 16 others in the 1600-meter run.
At last count, 56 high schools will be represented. Only a few will field compete teams.
Team champions from both divisions of the 2009 meet will return. Rowlett heads a field of 32 schools in the Class 5A division. Arlington Seguin will attempt to repeat in the 4A-and-under division, which has 24 entrants.
Athletes who competed in last year's Jesuit-Sheaner Relays advanced to the state meet in 63 events, winning 39 medlas (20 golds). That's the kind of talent you can expect to watch Saturday at Haggar Stadium.
Here's a look at the meet schedule (admission is only $5 for adults and $2 for students):
46th JESUIT-SHEANER RELAYS
Location: Haggar Stadium, Jesuit High School in Dallas
8 a.m.: 5A long jump and 4A triple jump
8:30 a.m.: 5A high jump, 5A shot put and 4A discus
10 a.m.: 5A and 4A pole vault morning session (starting height for bar is 11 feet, 6 inches and session ends after athletes reach 13 feet)
11 a.m.: 5A triple jump, 5A discus, 4A long jump, 4A high jump and 4A shot put
1 p.m.: 5A and 4A pole vault afternoon session (bar starts at 13 feet, 6 inches)
MORNING SESSION RUNNING EVENTS:
9 a.m.: Distance medley relay timed final (1,200 meters, 400m, 800m, 1,600m)
9:30 a.m.: 3,200 meters timed final
Rolling schedule for running preliminaries:
AFTERNOON SESSION RUNNING EVENTS:
(All timed finals)
2:30 p.m.: 4x100 relay
2:40 p.m.: 800 meters
3 p.m.: 110-meter hurdles
3:15 p.m.: 100 meters
3:25 p.m.: 4x200 relay
3:45 p.m.: 400 meters
4 p.m.: 300-meter hurdles
4:20 p.m.: Elite Girls 1,600 meters run (invitational only)
4:30 p.m.: 200 meters
4:40 p.m.: 1,600 meters run
5:10 p.m.: 4x400 relay
Brady said he's excited to compete against Killeen Ellison, which is in DeSoto's region and will be perhaps the Eagles' best competition in making a run at a state championship.
"This is a big meet. But it's not the meet," Brady said. "We have to be careful with that. If somebody feels a little something, you have to be careful in these big meets. You want to get through it healthy. You have to be careful with these meets that are close to district."
That said, Brady said that the Eagles come into the meet healthy. Brady said he has five sprinters who have performed well so far.
Senior Reginald Reed is the anchor leg on DeSoto's 4x100 and 4x200 relays. This Saturday, Reed will run the 400 meters and on the 4x100 and 4x400 relays. Reed has also been running on the 4x400 relay. He won't run the 4x200 relay Saturday so that he can get a time in the 400 meters, and event he hasn't run in yet this year.
Promising DeSoto freshman Dontre Wilson will replace Reed on the 4x200.
Senior Traun Roberson will run the second leg on DeSoto's 4x100 and 4x200 relays. He's signed with UT-El Paso in football.
DeSoto standout senior running back Marcus Murphy - a Missouri signee - is the Eagles' first leg on their 4x100 and 4x200 relays. Senior Devin Sanders is DeSoto's third leg on the 4x100 and 4x200 relays.
"We have five fast guys, and Reggie hasn't been pushed on either relay this year," Brady said. "I really want to see what Reggie can do when he has to run."
Sowell has a hip flexor injury, Lancaster coach Greg Williams said, and will be out at least another week after getting hurt a few weeks ago at the Tyler/Earl Campbell Relays.
That will hurt Lancaster, which is moving up from the Class 4A-and-under division on Saturday to compete in the Class 5A division of the Jesuit-Sheaner Relays for more competition. Lancaster is the two-time defending Class 4A state champion and will be pushed Saturday by Killeen Ellison and DeSoto.
"It may be a mistake to move up, but we're going to see what we can do," Williams said. "It's going to be a good matchup for us. We're going to come for a battle.
"If it's a nice day, which we're hoping for, it will be a packed house. And it's a great atmosphere for track and field."
Sheaner remains the meet director for the Jesuit-Sheaner Relays, which will enjoy its 46th meet this year. The meet begins at 8 a.m. Saturday at Jesuit's Haggar Stadium. The meet started as the Jesuit Relays in 1964 but was renamed the Jesuit-Sheaner Relays in 1975, when Sheaner retired as the school's longtime track coach.
The meet always attracts the best prep track and field athletes that Texas has to offer. And a big reason why is Sheaner, who puts in hours and hours of time calling, emailing and writing track coaches in an effort to attract the best possible field every year for the meet. He's built great relationships with coaches and athletes over the years and is a great promoter of his meet, but his genuine interest is in the kids who compete in the meet and the sport of track and field. Sheaner gets a lot of help every year from his son, Mike, who does a lot of the leg work to make the meet go off without a hitch. Herb Sheaner was inducted into the Texas Track and Field Coaches Association inaugural Hall of Fame class this year.
Herb Sheaner has a great personal story to tell as well. He's written a book called the Prisoner's Odyssey that, according to its Web site, is "a story of survival, hunger and reflection from a teenaged prisoner of war inside Germany near the end of Word War II. From capture at the Battle of The Bulge to the final escape from his German guards, the author allows us a glimpse into the despair and agony of being a prisoner in a foreign land."
I encourage everyone to give the book a look -- you can purchase the book right here -- and if you run into Herb Sheaner at the Jesuit-Sheaner Relays on Saturday at Haggar Stadium, stop by to tell him hello and thanks. The conversation will be well worth your time.
Hardy, who will compete in the 100 meters and 4x100 and 4x200 relays Saturday, is a big reason why Ellison is one of the favorites to win the Class 5A state team title come mid-May.
The Texas A&M signee is the defending World Youth 100-meter champion and wowed everyone last June in Austin when he won the 5A 100 state title in a slightly wind-aided 10.08 seconds, the third-fastest high school time ever under any conditions.
Lancaster will move up from the Class 4A-and-under division at the Jesuit-Sheaner Relays to compete in the Class 5A division against Ellison and DeSoto, one of the state's best teams this year under coach Mark Brady.
Collins will be one of the favorites in the 5A 400 meters. He had a great indoor season and will go head-to-head against Lancaster standout Rodney Jones, the state leader in the 400 meters this season with a time of 48.10 seconds.
Lyda, a standout freshman, runs for 3A Ranchview but will compete in the 5A 100 meters against Killeen Ellison standout Prezel Hardy. Lyda has clocked a 10.65-second 100 this year, which ranks second in the state.
Kitts is suffering from a stress fracture and Nielson has a foot injury.
Still, the competition in this race will be stout. Several girls could run under 5 minutes. Greenhill's Chelsey Sveinsson is the frontrunner. She has the nation's top girls 1,600 meters time this year of 4:52.34. Last year, Sveinsson came close to breaking the meet record of 4:49.9, set by Plano West's Erin Bedell during the first elite girls 1,600 race at the all-boys meet in 2004. Sveinsson won last year in 4:51.58. If the weather is as expected Saturday -- as always, a big if in Texas -- Sveinsson should break Bedell's record this time around.
The football stadium is scheduled to be finished before the start of Jesuit's 2010 high school football season. The stadium and the track were built in 1964. The 47-year-old track has been resurfaced a few times over the years but needed an upgrade. At the time of its completion in 1964, the track was the first all-weather track of its kind in Texas and attracted many of the nation's top high school athletes to compete there, especially for the annual Jesuit-Sheaner Relays.
The school decided to wait until after the Jesuit-Sheaner Relays on Saturday to break ground on the new stadium and eight-lane track so that it didn't disrupt the annual meet that is one of the state's best every year.
The new football stadium will feature stands in a semi-bowl shape where some seating will be available on the south end of Haggar Stadium. The stadium is also supposed to get a new press box and elevator. It's a much-needed improvement for the UIL Class 5A program in Dallas.
Here's some news from Herb Sheaner, director of the Jesuit-Sheaner Relays meet taking place this weekend: Emily Dunn, a junior from FEAST (San Antonio), has entered the race. She has the state's second-best time in the 1600 M so far this season, second to Greenhill's Chelsey Sveinsson.
In all, four state champions will be competing in this event. Should be an exciting one to watch on Saturday.
The nation's top-ranked 110-meter hurdler, Kendall Hayes of Lancaster, will be there. So will Greenhill's Chelsey Sveinsson, who is No. 1 in the mile and the two-mile. The nation's top-ranked 100-meter sprinter, Killeen Ellison's Prezel Hardy, will also be there.
Among the participants are: Greenhill's Chelsey Sveinsson, Plano's Rachel Johnson, Midlothian's Carly Kitts, Coppell's Kim Kirby and Colleyville Heritage's Alyssa Nielson. And that's just from our area.
This race is definitely something to watch for next week.