A host of volunteers, officials, parents, family, friends and communities will gather at 205 W. Cook Road on Saturday, April 17 like so many decades before for the Mehock Relays.
Founded in 1927, the Mehock Relays was a long-time boys-only invitational relay. It was revered for its all-weather track surface, the only of its kind in the region at its inception. In 2006, Mehock opened its restrictions to include female competitors. At its height, Mehock boasted over 350 schools from the region. Legendary athletes including Jesse Owens, Glenn Davis and Otis Drayton competed.
Meet Director Shannon Sprang, appointed in 2021, is just the sixth director in the event’s 88 year history.
“This speaks to the longevity behind this meet,” she said.
Sprang, a high school and collegiate track competitor herself with 20 years of experience, is excited to bring some of the normalcy of pre-COVID life back to the community. Countless hours of preparation have gone into the event, including coordination of volunteers, equipment and day-of logistics.
“I’m thankful that people have stepped up to donate to keep it running,” Sprang said of the 11 sponsors for this year’s meet.
The COVID-19 pandemic forced the highly esteemed event to be cancelled in 2020. Pausing for issues related to the common welfare is not foreign to the Mehock. In 1942, it was paused for four years due to World War II that caused personnel and gas shortages.
As the community again prepares to re-establish the meet this year, its rich history serves as a strong cornerstone. Many volunteers and officials often recount their experiences officiating or volunteering - some for as long as 60 years. Others relish in the memories of being a spectator with their parents or grandparents and see volunteering as a way to continue a legacy.
“It is a very special part of Richland County,” Sprang added.
This year’s relays will host 18 teams with additional individual competitors in various events. Gates will open at 9:00 a.m. Events will begin at 10:00 a.m. Social distancing, mask wearing and hand-sanitizing stations throughout the facility will be observed to follow COVID-19 safety protocols. Sponsors for this year’s event include: Straight Edge Construction Services, A Plus Transmissions, Buttons Auto Repair, Racers Rehm, Flenner Water Well and Excavating Services, Sauder Comfort, Forest Hills Gold Course, Mahek Trophies of Shelby, Park National Bank, Directions Credit Union and Studio 19 Salon. For more information on the Mehock Relays, visit the website at https://mehockrelays.org/.