When Henry Sheldon died on Monday, he left behind a legacy at Triton Regional High School that will live on for many years to come.
Since the day Triton Regional High School opened its doors in 1971, Sheldon defined the school’s athletics program. He served as coach for four different sports, taught as a gym teacher and left an indelible mark on thousands of students over a career that spanned six decades.
Perhaps it’s fitting then that less than a week after his passing, one of his most cherished creations will survive.
Tomorrow at 6 p.m., the annual Henry Sheldon Triton Triple Classic will take place under the lights at Ipswich High School. Traditionally held over April break, the meet was created by Sheldon as a fun way to bring teams from around the area together for a chance to try something different.
When Sheldon first started the meet, the idea was that each kid could compete in one track event, one field event and one relay, hence the Triple Classic name. Originally, the Classic was always held at Triton, scored as a co-ed meet and it was typically held over April break, allowing kids who don’t compete as much an opportunity to fill in for teammates who were away on vacation.
The meet was renamed in Sheldon’s honor in 2008, and since then it has undergone a number of other changes, including a time change from April to May and the decision to allow more runners to compete in each event. The biggest shift came after Triton’s track was shut down, which threatened to end the long-running tradition before Ipswich came to the rescue.
“It was a Triton tradition, and when our track had to be closed down, we went two years where we didn’t hold it at all,” said Joe Colbert, who succeeded Sheldon as head coach of the Triton track team in 2001. “Then last year Ipswich asked if we could hold it at their place. They’ve been great to us to allow us to host it over there.”