His name is synonymous with track and field in Galva, and the event bearing his name will feature eight programs competing Friday (April 5) night at Galva High School’s all-weather track.

His name is synonymous with track and field in Galva, and the event bearing his name will feature eight programs competing Friday (April 5) night at Galva High School’s all-weather track.

The Dale Collis Invite is set for a 4 p.m. start and teams joining the host Wildcats in the field are Abingdon-Avon, Princeville, Ridgewood, ROWVA-Williamsfield, Stark County, United and Mercer County — the boys team only for the Golden Eagles.

“I really appreciate it and I’m very proud of having the meet named after me,” Collis said, “but it’s also named after all the kids in the program that helped make us a team.”

In his 15 years as Galva’s boys track and field coach, Collis led the Wildcats to eight Lincoln Trail Conference titles, five runner-up finishes in the LTC meet, a team sectional championship in 1994 and 25 major meet championships. He also coached a number of Galva High School track record holders and one state champion — Ryan Preston in the 110-meter high hurdles in 1993.

Collis also served as girls varsity basketball coach for seven years at Galva, and coached football, boys basketball and track at the junior high level. He was part of the second class inducted into Galva’s Athletic Wall of Fame in 2004.

Collis believes his time as the junior high track coach prepared him — and his athletes — for success at the high school level.

“We had some rules to abide by and the kids knew what to expect from me,” Collis said. “Over the years I’ve made a lot of good friends and the kids had fun.”

The Galva Relays and Eisenbarth Relays — boys and girls track meets, respectively — were spring traditions at Galva High School’s track. However, after the 2008 season, those meets were discontinued. As a new teacher in the Galva district in 1961, Collis recalled helping with the Galva Relays. He said the field featured 33 teams and it was after midnight before his duties were done. The Relays and Eisenbarth were traditionally held in late April, but a move to earlier in the month created more weather issues and with the arrival of several new all-weather tracks in the area, the Relays and Eisenbarth both faced struggles.

Spearheaded by track coaches Shawn Kendall and Amanda Johnson, a new combined meet was established to replace the Relays and Eisenbarth and it was named in honor of Collis, who retired from his teaching and coaching duties with the district in 2002.

He recalled being “totally shocked” and “humbled” having the event named after him. The Dale Collis Invite was scheduled to debut on April 8, 2009, but inclement weather forced its cancellation. Fittingly when the meet returned in 2010, the Galva boys won the team title behind wins from Derek Foley in the 3200, Jesse Humphrey in the 800, Trevor Foley in the 1600, Kile Mott in the 200 and the 4x800 relay of Derek Foley, Kevin O’Riley, Humphrey and Trevor Foley.

Collis hesitated to name names when asked for his favorite memories as Galva’s track coach, for fear of leaving out a few, and drove home a recurring theme — dedicated athletes and coaches working together to have fun and give their best in competition.

“We had a lot of good athletes that stuck it out and it was a lot of fun,” Collis said.

Collis will be present at Friday’s meet and is slated to hand out the plaques to the winning teams. He’s also been invited to speak to Galva’s track athletes on Thursday. The program is battling low numbers, but Collis noted he’s “just extremely pleased with the new track” and believes the program can make a comeback. He’ll also hand out little momentos to the Galva track athletes — a show of his appreciation for their efforts.

“I just try to do something to make the meet feel special for them,” Collis said.