New look Goshen Relays set for Saturday

GOSHEN — Goshen High School Athletic Director Jim Pickard thought a change was needed when it came to the Goshen Relays for girls.

A slight adjustment has been made in hopes of revitalizing the girls meet at the Goshen Relays.

That meet has been moved up a couple of weeks and the girls will join the boys this Saturday in a mega Goshen Relays at Goshen High School.

It will be the 81st running for the boys at the Goshen Relays and the 34th running for the girls.

“When I took over as athletic director two years ago the girls relays were a dying breed,” said Pickard. “We were begging 10 teams to come last year. You had the timing of having the conference meets the Tuesday following the girls Goshen Relays and having weekend proms. That set back the meet.

“Also, in the girls you had relays that weren’t usually run in normal meets. Honestly, after my first year (as athletic director) I had to do something or cancel it. It wasn’t worth the time or money put into it.”

Goshen boys and girls track coach Graham Clark wasn’t sure at the beginning if the new format would work.

“I was a little skeptical about both meets coming together, but I understand the purpose of it,” said Clark. “The girls were hosting their relays on a difficult date before most schools compete in their conference championships. Prom is also coming up and that was certainly a factor.

“One thing that I like is that it was agreed upon that the girls would run the same format as the boys for the meet.”

Pickard is still happy with the look of the Goshen Relays with boys and girls this year, despite having to compete with the Penn High School Girls Invitational this Saturday.

“We were still turning down girls teams,” Pickard said. “Over 1,200 girls are registered and there are 16 teams. We kept 35 teams for boys. Next year we could have 40 boys teams and expand to 24 teams for girls. It depends on the timing.”

Clark is excited to see the great competition from schools all around the state.

“I believe we will see a lot of great performances with all of the athletes coming from different areas in our region,” Clark said. “That will make this a very competitive meet. I really like the additions that have been made this year. We will see schools that we won’t see again until the state finals. There are still quite a few original teams like those from the NLC and some of the Elkhart and Fort Wayne schools.”

Area schools competing in the boys meet are Goshen, Elkhart, NorthWood, Northridge, Fairfield, Concord and Penn. Area schools competing in the girls meet are Goshen, NorthWood and Fairfield.

For both boys and girls, there will be a Class A competition for bigger schools and a Class B for the smaller schools.

With the addition of girls and schools, Pickard knows the Relays will go longer into the afternoon. But he doesn’t expect the meet to last into the evening.

“We’ll probably add around two hours to the meet,” Pickard said. “It depends on the timing. As big as the meet is we won’t know for sure how long it will last until Saturday.”

In Class A for boys, Penn is looking for its third straight title, while in Class B, South Bend St. Joseph is the defending champion.

Only seven schools scored last year at the Goshen Relays for girls. Fort Wayne Northrop is the defending champion.

“It’s hard to say who the favorites are until we see who is competing in each event for the teams,” Clark said. “I will say that when we competed against Bremen before spring break, I was very impressed with their quality. I think they could be the favorites for Class B.

“As for Class A, we’re just focused on coaching our kids each day to get better. Our focus is to compete hard, limit mistakes and enjoy the experience.”

Lowell Nafziger has been selected to be the honorary referee for the Relays.

“Lowell has volunteered at Goshen for track meets forever,” Pickard said. “He’s done 30 something Goshen Relays and he been at other track meets for us. He deserves the honor. He’s put in a lot time for us. Lowell doesn’t want the recognition, but he’s always been there for us.”

The meet will get underway at 9 a.m., with the boys high jump, long jump, pole vault, discus and shot put, along with the running trials. The finals for the boys shot put and discus and the running events get underway at 11:30 a.m. The girls will compete first.