With the opening of the indoor track and field season just days away, third year head coach Mark FitzPatrick has announced the 2014 schedule which not only features the return of the North Coast Athletic Conference Championship to Granville, but a new meet that will honor a Denison coaching legend.
On Saturday, February 8, Denison will host the first ever Bob Shannon Invitational that will feature teams from Allegheny, Baldwin Wallace, Carnegie Mellon, Kenyon, Ohio Wesleyan, Wittenberg, Wooster, and Denison inside the Mitchell Fieldhouse.
Bob Shannon coached the Denison track and field programs from 1954 until his retirement in 1993. Shannon was a 10-time North Coast Athletic Conference Coach of the Year and in 1987 he led the Denison men's outdoor track and field team to a program-best fifth-place national finish. Shannon also coached 1976 Olympic Gold Medalist Herman Frazier during his one season at Denison in 1973, along with NCAA national champions Scott Shorney, and Ed Colley. Shannon was inducted into the Varsity D Association Hall of Fame in 1977.
A native of Newark, Ohio, and a 1950 Denison graduate, Shannon grew the sport of track and field throughout the state by hosting indoor meets in the old Alumni Memorial Fieldhouse throughout the winter months for over three decades. In addition to his track and field duties, Shannon also served as Keith Piper's assistant football coach for 39 years. Shannon passed away in 2008.
"I have heard some great stories about Coach Shannon over the past two years," noted FitzPatrick. "In my conversations with alumni who competed for Bob, they all spoke fondly of him and have the upmost respect for him. Over time, I started thinking about a proper way to recognize Coach Shannon and all that he did for student-athletes at Denison. I felt naming a meet in his honor is the best way of doing so."
In addition to the announcement of the Bob Shannon Invitational, the 2014 NCAC Indoor Track & Field Championship will return to the Mitchell Fieldhouse on March 7-8 for the first time since 2010. The facility hosted the NCAC Indoor Championship 16 times from 1995-2010.
"We are very excited about the 2014 NCAC Indoor Track & Field Championship returning to Denison," said FitzPatrick. "When I was an assistant at Allegheny and the head coach at Hiram, I always looked forward to coming to Denison for the championship. The Mitchell Center is a great venue and Denison did an excellent job of hosting the meet. It is nice to have the opportunity to provide athletes, coaches, and spectators with a great experience once again."
The official start to Denison's season will be this Saturday (Jan. 25) when the Big Red host its annual Denison Lid-Lifter with Muskingum, Bethany, Otterbein, Transylvania, Waynesburg, Wilmington, Wittenberg, and select Denison track and field alumni all scheduled to compete. Field events will begin at 11 a.m. with running events set to start at 2 p.m.
Other hosted events by Denison in 2014 include the All-Ohio Combined Events Championship on Feb. 8-9 which will crown the All-Ohio champion in the heptathlon (men) and pentathlon (women). Denison will also host its annual Last Chance Meet on Friday, Feb. 28, leading up to the NCAC Championship the following weekend.