Kansas Relays To Unveil Two New Awards

April 20, 2005

Lawrence, Kan. — Meet Director Tim Weaver announced Wednesday the creation of two new awards for the Kansas Relays. The Bill Easton Cup will annually recognize the top high school boys team from Kansas at each Kansas Relays, while the Bill Easton Award will recognize the high school boys division Athlete of the Meet. Two magnificent, permanent trophies were commissioned last year by John Suhler, class of 1965.

“My life has been touched by Bill Easton and the Kansas Relays in so many ways,” said Suhler. “I can remember staying at the Easton’s home in Lawrence at Kansas Relays time when we were kids, and they would stay at our home in Des Moines for the Drake Relays. When I was maybe 12 years old, while we still lived in Des Moines, for four successive Kansas Relays weekends I sold pop in the stands to make some pocket money. That was one of my earliest exposures to the concepts of sales and work ethic. In my high school years, Olympian Al Oerter, whose sister was my dad’s assistant at Look Magazine in New York City, met me at Randall’s Island and tried – without success – to help me improve my discus and shot put skills. I’m pleased to bridge the new era of success for the Kansas Relays with the ideals of Coach Easton and his family.”

The Bill Easton Cup features a carved cherry-wood base topped with a 14-inch tall crystal cup affixed within a stylized model of Memorial Stadium. The Bill Easton Award shares the same base and Memorial Stadium design, but is instead topped with a bust of Coach Easton. Both trophies will go on display for the first time at the Kansas Relays Hall of Fame Banquet, Saturday, April 23.

“These trophies give the awards of the Kansas Relays a visual identity second to none,” said KU Athletics Director Lew Perkins. “Coach Easton was a tremendous believer in what Kansans could accomplish; his championship teams were full of in-state athletes. It is fitting that these two awards bearing his name will recognize excellence from within the Sunflower State. Coach Easton encouraged his athletes not only to want success, but also to expect it. John Suhler serves as a great example of that attitude; these amazing trophies are a testament to what both men represent. The Kansas Relays is honored to be associated with them both.”

Easton directed the Jayhawks from 1947 to 1965, making an incredible mark on the Kansas Relays during his tenure. A former Meet Director of the Drake Relays, Easton’s Kansas Relays were highlighted by 22 KU All-Americans, ten Jayhawk NCAA champions and eight Kansas Olympians. KU won three NCAA titles under his guidance. Easton coached 39 conference championship teams, including eight consecutive sweeps of the cross-country, indoor, and outdoor crowns.

“The resurrection of the Kansas Relays and the Hall of Fame recognition that Coach Easton has received has given us a wonderful byproduct in the enjoyment for my sister Sue and me to reconnect with his wife Ada and daughter Lindsey,” said Suhler.

The 78th Kansas Relays will run from April 21 – 23; the GOLD ZONE is Saturday, April 23, from 2:00 – 5:00 p.m. For more information on the Kansas Relays, a complete GOLD ZONE schedule, and ticket information, click here.