58th annual Brady Relays, a storied event, set this Saturday

Last year’s long-storied, colorful Brady Relays was cancelled due to frigid temperatures so this year’s event will also be called the 58th annual event. It’s a tradition that the Heart of Texas has enjoyed since its inception under beloved BHS track coach Russ (Doc) Holland way back in 1937. The day before last year’s affair was to be held it was sunny and warm, but the next day (Saturday) Old Man Winter blew in a blue norther and it was 19′. BHS athletic director Todd Bandy termed it too cold to run in shorts and singlets. There was no meet in 1941, and, of course, there was none during the World War II era (from 1943-46). Then there was no meet in 1978 and 1979 because of too much competition from area track meets. Then for three years it was just too cold (1980,1990 and 2002). Brady track coaches Doug Holtzclaw (boys) and Larry Hoelscher (girls) have announced that 10 schools will compete in this year’s event. They include Coleman, the defending champion in the varsity, girls’ varsity and JV girls in 2001, Bangs, San Saba, Midland Christian, Lometa, Rochelle, Lohn, San Saba State School and Brownwood State School. The teams will compete in four divisions: boys’ varsity and junior varsity, and girls’ varsity and junior varsity. 2001 JV boys’ title winner, Liberty Hill, is not coming this year. The affair will begin at 9 a.m. Saturday at Bulldog Stadium with the field events. Running preliminaries will start after all field events are completed which will be around 11 a.m. Following the prelims, there will be a one-hour lunch break after which the running event finals will begin. That should be in the vicinity of 3 p.m. All Bulldog fans are encouraged to attend the meet. For the first 36 years the Brady Relays were strictly for the boys’ varsity teams, and there were schools coming from all over the state. San Antonio Edison won the initial meet in 1937, and San Antonio Jefferson copped the second championship. But the school that has the most first place trophies is the Brady Bulldogs. They have captured 22 titles. The big years were from 1949-51 when Brady was winning a couple of state championships. In the 1950s it wasn’t unusual for teams to come from Borger, Phillips, Amarillo, Lubbock, Odessa, Midland, San Angelo, Austin, San Antonio, and even one from Dallas’Highland Park to be exact. In 1960 and 1961, the old meet was switched to a two-division affair, but that was trashed after that two-year period. Then in 1972, it went back to a two division meet again and stayed that way until 1977. In 1981, junior varsity boys’ began to participate, then in 1984 varsity girls joined the fun. In 1993, the junior varsity girls were invited to the party. It’s been like that to this day. You may ask why those big city schools came all the way to Brady in the early years. It’s because Brady’s coach at the time was Holland, and he was one of the best track coaches in the country. He also had one of the best tracks in the state at Brady High School. It was caliche, and when it was packed good and proper, it was one of the fastest courses around. That’s why some of the state’s top sprinters, guys like Troy Harber of Lubbock, who went on to run at SMU, and Hollis Gainey of Colorado City, who was a star at Texas, came to town. The track at BHS was converted to resolite (a rubber-based substance) in 1980, and no one came that year because of the cold weather. Other colorful athletes who have competed at the Brady Relays are Don Maynard of Colorado City (played football at Texas Western and for the New York Jets) and Wahoo McDaniel of Midland (played football at OU and for several pro teams). Others who have graced the caliche track at Brady include two great late 1930 Brady sprinters, Doug Calley and Charlie Dye, who both still reside in Brady; Glenn Gregory of Abilene and later SMU; Mike McClellan of Stamford and later OU; and Bangs’ James Segrest, who won a state meet by himself and later ran at ACC. There have been other stars in later years, but the above mentioned men performed on that old white track. The Brady Relays is one of the longest continuous track meets in Texas, and it’s tradition keeps going this Saturday in the 58th annual event. The relays have been moved from its normal April date in recent years because of the large number of track meets in the area during that month.

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