53 Years After its Inception, Mt. Sac Relays still brings the world's best athletes together
By Gary Montgomery, Staff Writer –
On April 25, 1959, the Mt. San Antonio College Board of Trustees fulfilled Hilmer Lodge’s dream of building a state-of-the art track and field facility so that he could host a world class event on the West Coast. Hilmer’s plan was to create an event that would rival such classic events as the Drake and Penn Relays on the East Coast. The track was considered to be one of the fastest all-weather tracks in the world when construction was completed. Built with a running surface composed of volcanic ash, clay and diatomaceous earth.
Hilmer’s dream event included opening the competition to prep and collegiate level athletes. He also wanted to showcase post graduate, club and open athletes to compete as well. On that cold and windy day in April 53 years ago the legendary event took life and a major track and field event was born on the West Coast, strikingly different from other major events and completely unique unto itself.
Over time, The Relays became an international event hosting athletes from as many as 20 nations seeking world class competition. There were more than 850 high school, community college, college and club athletes competing in 56 different events later ballooning to 139 events and more than 3000 athletes.
On two occasions, the US Olympic Teams used the Relays as its training and trials site, 1960 and 1964. In 1968, it was one of two official trials sites. In 1986, The Relays, with a grant from The Amateur Athletic Foundation of Los Angeles expanded its program to include two special AAF-Mt. Sac Youth Days.
The greatest athletes in the world have passed through the gates at Mt. Sac and gone on to Olympic and world success.
Mt. Sac is currently home to more than 20 standing world records. It is holding strong against the weight of economic pressures and still bringing out the best the area and the world has to offer.
One of the great attributes of the Mt. Sac Relays is the unique opportunity it presents for prep athletes to compete against the best of their peers on the same stage with the top professional athletes in the world.
This year’s meet, although showing obvious signs of the time provided the same level of competitive intensity.
Local high schools competing included Corona Centennial, Riverside Poly, Colony, Carter and M.L. King. Over 75 Southern Section schools entered at least one participant.
Rialto Carter high school participating at Mt. Sac for the first time ran a school record 3:26:0 in the 4 x 100 meter relay. Perennial powerhouse Long Beach Poly and Gardena Serra set the stage for the upcoming CIF battle posting record times in most of the relays events.
The Mt. Sac Relays have showcased hundreds of Olympic, collegiate and prep athletes during its history.
The list is too numerous to mention. It has contributed immensely to Olympic development and the advancement of the sport. And most of all it has placed the premier West Coast Track and Field event in our back yard so that we can continue to have the opportunity to see the best athletes the world has to offer.
Gmontgomery can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org
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