Louis Means, Beloit’s athletic director from 1936 to 1945, started the Beloit Relays with the goal of bringing prominence and exposure to Beloit’s teams and the college’s newly renovated athletic facilities.
Though that was back in 1937, the Relays that make their triumphant return in 2013 come at a similar point in Beloit’s history.
Karris Track & Field at Strong Stadium opened in the fall of 2011, featuring a new artificial turf field, scoreboard, and an eight-lane all-weather track. The quality of the renovated facilities, made possible through $3.7 million in gifts from a small group of alumni and friends, positioned Beloit to reclaim its place as host to one of the nation’s premier collegiate track and field events.
The Relays had a history-making 42-year run, placing Beloit College on the national map of track and field events. Between 1937 and 1979, more than 10,000 athletes from 50-plus small colleges and universities competed in the annual event at Strong Stadium, which was accompanied by pomp, parades, celebrity athletes, and a host of social events.
The 21st century Relays will share that proud past, but differ in a couple of notable ways. Most importantly, women will compete on equal footing in all events. Most of the previous Relays occurred during the pre-Title IX era, and records show that although a few women took part in later years, they were a small minority of athletes.
A newly designed medal and logo (at left) will also signal a new era for the Relays. The design was created by Ariana Espinoza’14, who won a competition among Beloit College students enrolled in a graphic design course taught by Professor of Art George Williams.
As of mid-February, participants in the 2013 Relays included men’s and women’s teams from Judson, Knox, North Park, Rockford College, and St. Ambrose, as well as women’s teams from Augustana College. Events begin on Friday, April 26, at 5 p.m. and continue on Saturday, April 27, at 11:30 a.m.