What would a modern Texas Relays be without longtime official Rooster Andrews? Andrews, who was at Texas as a student from 1941-46, started as a team manager in the Athletics Department and has been a fixture on the officiating crew for more than 50 years. He opened Rooster Andrews Sporting Goods in 1971.
L. Theo Bellmont was the Athletics Director at Texas who, along with Clyde Littlefield, came up with the idea of the Texas Relays. Bellmont, who also had a hand in founding the Southwest Conference, pushed the construction of Memorial Stadium and saw the fruits of his work on March 27, 1925 -- the date of the inaugural Relays. The meet drew more than 350 athletes and 4,000 fans and was hailed as the "greatest athletic event ever held in the Southwest" by the Austin American.
The Carter family has won 12 Relays titles to date. Dad Michael won two boys high school shot crowns for Dallas Jefferson and three as a collegian at SMU, while current Longhorn Michelle (his daughter) won four straight girls high school shot golds and two in the discus for Red Oak. Little sister D'Andra was the 2004 girls high school discus champ.
The Great Depression of the 1930s saw the Relays take a three-year hiatus in 1932-34.
Erin Aldrich of Texas won three straight university women's high jump titles from 1998-2000 and was named Outstanding Performer in 2000 after setting a meet record with her 6-4.75 clearance. She also picked up high school golds in 1993-94 and 1996. Aldrich represented the United States at the 2004 Olympics in Athens and currently plays professional volleyball in Italy.
Francie Larrieu-Smith, currently coach at Georgetown's Southwestern University, won nine Relays distance titles in the '70s and '80s, including an American record in the women's 10,000 in 1991.
Many-time World and Olympic champion Maurice Greene first gained national attention in 1995 with his windy 9.88 win in the invitational men's 100 meters, beating Olympic legend Carl Lewis in the process. Greene, along with his HSI teammates, has become a popular figure at ensuing Relays as he has cemented his spot as one of the greatest sprinters of all time.
From 1951-53, Texas A&M's Darrow Hooper owned the university men's shot and discus, collecting all six possible golds in the period. He also won high school shot put gold for Ft. Worth North Side in 1948-49 and was the silver medalist in the shot at the 1952 Olympics in Helsinki.
In 1927, the Tarahumara Indians from Mexico thrilled the Relays fans with an unprecedented show of distance running excellence. Running barefoot on gravel highways, the men covered more than 89 miles from San Antonio to Austin in a shade under 15 hours, while the women raced almost 29 miles in four and three-quarter hours. More than 10,000 fans greeted the Tarahumaras in Memorial Stadium.
Jones. Lam Jones. Johnny Lam Jones, to be exact. The 1976 Olympic relay gold medalist was the Outstanding Performer of the 1977 Relays after an electrifying win in the invitational 100 meters.
Knute Rockne, the legendary football coach at Notre Dame, was the Relays meet referee in 1929.
Without Clyde Littlefield, for whom the Relays are now named, the meet would probably not be the massive event it is. Littlefield was the Longhorns' head coach from 1921-61 and he ushered in an era that saw Texas move to the forefront of track and field in the United States. In addition to guiding UT to 25 SWC track titles, Littlefield was 44-18-4 in seven seasons as head football coach and produced two SWC champion squads. He was the U.S. Olympic coach in 1952 at Helsinki and served as meet director for the Relays for 30 years.
Bobby Morrow of Abilene Christian won three straight Relays 100 golds from 1955-57 and paced his ACC team to a world record-tying 4x100 win in 1957. Morrow, who won three Olympic golds for the United States at Melbourne in 1956, was named Outstanding Performer in 1955 and 1957, and tied the world record in the 100-yards in 1957 with a 9.3 clocking.
Legendary Finnish distance runner Paavo Nurmi made an appearance at the 1929 Relays. Nurmi won nine Olympic golds from 1920-28, and added three silvers.
Al Oerter of Kansas ended up as a four-time Olympic gold medalist in the discus, and he picked up his first of three straight Relays wins in 1956 before heading to Melbourne, Australia for his initial Olympic title. He set a Relays record with his 188-2 toss in 1958.
Charley Parker was one of the great sprinters of the 1940s, winning three straight high school 100 titles for San Antonio Jefferson from 1942-44. He also anchored his squad to 440-yard relay crowns in 1943-44. As a Longhorn, Parker won individual Relays gold in the 100 in 1948 and 1950 and helped the Horns to numerous sprint relay titles.
In 1989, Arizona's John Quade won the university men's 1500 and his Wildcat team won the distance medley relay in 9:36.13.
Rice was an early partner in helping the Relays get off the ground, agreeing to host a meet on the day following the inaugural edition. Having meets on two consecutive days in towns within comfortable driving distance helped attract more major programs in the days before air travel.
Wes Santee of Kansas won two straight Outstanding Performer awards in 1953-54. At the 1953 meet he anchored four Kansas relay wins, including a world record in the sprint medley and an American record in the four-mile relay. He also won the mile in 1955 as a grad student, clocking 4:00.5 for the then third-fastest time in history.
The invitational mile is named after him for good reason. Jerry Thompson is one of the greatest distance runners in Texas history. He won three NCAA titles and was an Olympian in the 5,000 meters in 1948 at London. In 1947 he was named Outstanding Performer at the Relays.
Proving that the Relays is a lifetime commitment for many, brothers Mac and Robert Umstattd returned to Relays action in 1970 in the master's men's mile. Mac was a letterman in 1941 and 1942, and Robert was the Texas team captain in 1945.
Prairie View's women dominated the baton action in the 1970s at the Relays, taking 4x100 gold in 1972-77, 4x400 gold in 1973-80, and sprint medley gold in 1972-80.
Women first officially competed in the Relays in 1963, with a very limited menu of events. Janis Rinehart of the Texas TC won the inaugural 100-yard dash in 11.8 seconds.
Dana X. Bible came to UT in 1937 as football coach and athletic director and played an integral role in keeping the Relays alive and thriving through the war years. His middle name? Xenophon, after the ancient Greek historian. One of the all-time football coaching greats at Texas, Bible was 63-31-3 and led his 1942 team to the first bowl game in school history -- a 14-7 win over Georgia Tech in the Cotton Bowl.
Earl Young was a gold medalist at the 1960 Olympics in Rome, and followed up in 1961 by winning Outstanding Performer recognition at the Relays. Young paced Abilene Christian to four relay wins in '61, including a world best in the 880-yard relay and an NCAA record in the mile relay.
LSU won the Outstanding Team award in 1995, led by Zundra Feagin, who won the university women's 100 in 11.12w. The Tigers also won the 4x100 and 4x400 that year.