The year is 1964; Jesuit is scheduled to hold its very first track meet in school history. The meet, known simply as the Jesuit Relays (named after the Texas Relays held in Austin), is set to host freshman runners from SMU, various athletes from junior colleges, as well as a number of high school athletes, who would compete on the very first all-weather track in the state of Texas. Half a century later, this tradition would outlast many other top meets across Texas such the East Texas State Invitational Meet and Southwest Regional Meet, to blossom into what is today known as the one and only Jesuit Sheaner Relays.
Saturday, March 22 marked the 50th Anniversary of The Jesuit Sheaner Relays. The meet is named after Herb Sheaner who is now 87 and coached Track at Jesuit for twenty years. Coach Sheaner is also known for creating the first Cross Country meet in the Dallas area, now known as the Dallas Jesuit XC Invitational. Sheaner told the Round Up that “[he] never thought that it would get to be this big,” recounting the event’s humble beginning in which those who officiated the meet “had to stand on a chair in the middle of the football field because [Jesuit] did not have a stadium,” with a press box.
Recognized as the largest invitational meet in Texas, which provided “a source of great pride,” for Jesuit according to Track and Field Head Coach Doug Robinson, the Sheaner Relays once again attracted the top distance and sprinting talent in the area and nation with one hundred schools and close to a thousand athletes competing. As always, Track and Field powerhouses in 5A such as DeSoto, Lancaster, and Duncanville arrived and planned to dominate again. Not to be forgotten, distance juggernauts such as Strake Jesuit in Houston, Southlake Carroll, and Keller attended with an anticipated display of talent and guts for all spectators.
Connor Garvey’16, a specialist in the 3200 and 1600-meter events, stated that from a runner’s perspective the Sheaner Relays “is the best meet in Texas,” in terms of gathering the top competition in the nation at one meet, showcasing a total of 7 individuals who hold the top standard times in the US for their event.
Beginning with the Distance Medley Relay at 9:00 am and ending on a fast note with the 4 x 400 meter relay around 5:30 pm, this year’s running events lived up to, and even surpassed all prior expectations. In the 800 meter run, Jeffery Moore from Newman Smith broke the 4A meet record with a time of 1:51.97, replacing Jesuit’s own Alex Altaffer’s meet record of 1:53.58, set in 2000. Astonishingly enough, three more records would fall as competition continued through the day. Senior Austen Dalquist from Keller, broke both the 5A 1600 and 3200 meters meet records, running blazing fast times of 4:11.97 and 9:00.49, destroying the former 3200 record previously held by Scott McPherson of Plano, who ran a time of 9:08.3 back in 2004. In 4A, Sophomore Carter Blunt of Frisco Heritage broke the 3200 record with a time of 9:03.10, crushing the previous record of 9:13.99, held by Brady Turnbull of Frisco Liberty since 2012.
Jesuit’s own Connor Garvey’16 and Seniors Dillon Smith and Andrew Pott held their own in these competitions within the 5A division as well. As Connor bested Dillon in the 1600, both clocked fantastic times of 4:31.03 and 4:31.52, finishing in tenth and twelfth place. In the 3200, both Dillon and John Garvey, held their own among the tough competition, finishing eighth and twenty-sixth overall with times of 9:41.00, and 10:37.78. (Note John had been tripped on his third lap and still managed to finish within twenty seconds of his projected time). Finally, Pott claimed second in the 5A Men’s 800 meter run, hitting a new personal record of 1:55.42, finishing third overall in the meet.
In the field activities, competition proved to be tight. TCU football commit and throwing behemoth Trey Elliot’14, and teammate Kyle Shannon’14 competed against some of the best throwers in the nation including Kord Ferguson of Ottawa in Kansas, who holds a discuss record of close to 200 meters and shot put mark around 63 meters. In the end, Ferguson won both events, throwing 63-07.00 meters in the shot put, and 192-00 meters in the discus. Elliot finished sixth overall in the discus throwing 150-05, and fifth in the shot put with 51-07.00 meters. Shannon too showed his superior throwing 47-06.50 in the shot put, earning ninth place. Sophomores Ben Metzler (discus) and Nmensoma Nwafor(shot put) performed well also, ending up twelfth and thirteenth in their respective events.
Overall Jesuit finished outside of the top eleven teams in 5A competition, while the top three spots were captured by Lancaster (80 points), Duncanville (62 points), and Texarkana (TX) (58 points) respectively. Mansfield Legacy dominated the 4A division, literally running away with the overall win with a total of 106 points, followed by Lancaster (62 points) and Celina (60 points).
Although Jesuit was never projected to win the Sheaner Relays, Coach Robinson noted that “watching our guys perform [and] stack up against these types of competitors,” is his favorite part of the meet and that it “let’s [him] know as a coach where [the team] needs to be” in order to be successful on a “championship level”. When addressing what their favorite part of the meet, Garvey mentioned that he was most “pumped up about beating,” teammate Smith in the mile, as well as hitting a new personal record in that event. On the same topic, Pott said he most enjoyed the opportunity to see top athletes such as Carter Blunt of Frisco Heritage and Austen Dalquist of Keller, as well as “compete and medal” in his individual event, the 800.
Without a doubt, the Jesuit Sheaner Relays has proved to be the largest and most prominent event that Jesuit hosts all year long and has hosted for the past fifty years. Now that Jesuit possesses the finest equipment and facilities a high school can offer, memories of the challenges faced in the very first Sheaner Relays seem distant, yet shine as a constant reminder of how far this meet has come. Coach Robinson believes that “due to the publicized times and performances,” teams will see this meet as one that “[they] need to go to”. In other words, concerning the fame and the popularity of this meet, the future of this phenomenal tradition is bright and that there is no place else to go but up.
This past Friday and Saturday (March 28-29), the Rangers charged into battle once more with sprint medly team heading down to Austin for the 87th annual Texas Relays, yet another meet where national talent would be on display, while the rest of Jeznation’s sprinters and distance crew remained in the area hoping to crush the competition and wrangle up a win at the Mesquite Invitational. Geared up and ready to go, Coach Robinson prompted his runners to view these meets’ projections and preliminary races to that of the 5A District meet in two weeks in which the Rangers look to top district rivals Skyline, Berkner, and Lake Highlands to win yet another district championship.