Chillicothe Joe Shy Relays stages return Friday

Fourteen schools will join hosts in first major meet of 2021

Paul Sturm
Chillicothe News
After three preliminary, non-scoring evaluation meets to start their 2021 season, the Chillicothe (Mo.) HS track-and-field teams will engage in their first scoring competition this Friday (April 9) when they host 14 other schools in the annual Chillicothe Joe Shy Relays at Jerry Litton Memorial Stadium II. There are no crowd-limit restrictions for the meet, which will begin at 2 p.m. and end at around 6:30.

By PAUL STURM, C-T Sports Editor

Idled for a number of years late last century because of deterioration of the track at Jerry Litton Memorial Stadium before a major resurfacing project allowed it to return, the Chillicothe Relays track-and-field meet – rechristened the Chillicothe Joe Shy Relays early this century in honor of the legendary 1-time world-record holder and Chillicothe – took another hiatus in 2020, compliments of the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic in the United States.

Fortunately, the event – the jewel of Chillicothe High School's home schedule every year and annually among the most-respected regular-season prep track-and-field events in northwest Missouri – will return in all its glory after only that 1-year absence this Friday (April 9, 2021).

A favorable weather forecast (70 degrees, less than 10% chance of rain) should allow the hundreds of participating athletes to compete in advantageous conditions and fans to observe at Jerry Litton Memorial Stadium II, beginning at 2 p.m. The meet usually lasts until between 6:30-7 p.m.

As usual, at meet's end, the top girl and boy performer in the meet (in terms of team points scored) will be recognized and presented with the Bob Carter Memorial Gold Show Award plaque, symbolizing their accomplishments. The award has been sponsored annually by the Constitution-Tribune since the death of its long-time sports editor in 2001.

According to Chillicothe boys' team head coach Bill Shaffer, long-time chief organizer of the event, the 2021 Relays again will include 14 other schools besides host CHS.

This year's list – virtually all of them long-time participants – includes  Kirksville, Marshall, St. Joseph: Benton and Lafayette, Hamilton: Penney, Trenton, Plattsburg, Carrollton, Brookfield, Cameron, Maryville, Richmond, Boonville, and Princeton.

Friday's meet will be the fourth time already this spring the stadium and CHS have hosted a meet, but not the last. Next month, Litton Stadium II will be the site of both the Midland Empire Conference Championships and the Class 3 district meet in which Chillicothe will compete. The class/district assignment and site was announced last week by the Missouri State High School Activities Association.

Shaffer noted Wednesday that there is no COVID-19-related limit on the number of fans who can attend the meet, although fans still are asked to wear face masks and socially distance as best they can.

He also noted that, while the stadium's concessions stand will be operated, the offerings will be limited to bottled water and sports drinks, popcorn, and pre-packaged foods (candy, snacks).

Because of the lack of a 2020 season, handicapping potential contenders for the team titles and Carter Gold Shoe Award winners for Friday's Chillicothe Joe Shy Relays would be largely guesswork. However, based on their performances in three non-scoring meets to date, both Chillicothe's girls and boys figure to score plenty of team points and possibly have a contender or two for the individual laurels.