The Frank Horton Invitational was created in 1989 in honor of Coach Frank Horton. This event, now called the Frank Horton Classic, has been run 34 consecutive times attracting some of the strongest and most talented teams and individuals from all over the region.
Frank Horton, “Coach,” as he always preferred to be called, volunteered countless hours to help Memphis area runners. His intense focus and deep concern for all his runners helped them discover their full potential and instilled a true love of the sport. Never seeking the spotlight for himself, Coach led CBHS runners over 13 seasons to six Regional titles and to their first Cross Country State title in 1982.
Through it all, he encouraged all of his runners to “Accept The Challenge” on and off the race course. His words: Give everything you have over the course of the race because “the mind will always give up before the body.” Through both his words and his life, Coach taught them to “Accept the Challenge.”
While still volunteering to be their coach, he quietly battled Lou Gehrig’s disease for many years. He lost his battle with ALS on October 24, 1989 at age 56, having coached CBHS runners only five days before.
Now Coach Horton’s legacy lives on through the annual running of the Frank Horton Invitational, as well as every time you choose to “Accept the Challenge.”
God blessed Frank Horton with a special talent for teaching, inspiring and motivating young people….
These words came from one of many grateful parents, but they echo just the same within the wider running world. Coach inspired the average runner as well as Olympic-level athletes through his Tuesday night track workouts he started at the University of Memphis and that continue to this day. Coach’s efforts also led to the creation of the Memphis Marathon, and when the World Police and Fire Games selected Memphis as their site in 1991, they used the cross country course at Shelby Farms Park that Coach designed. In fact, Coach certified all road races within Memphis up until his death, ensuring course accuracy and compliance with the national body governing race course certification.
In 1990, he received the Golden Shoe Award posthumously from Runner’s World Magazine, which recognizes service to the running community. Since 1988, the Memphis Runners Track Club has given the annual Frank Horton Award for Volunteerism.
Top Regional contenders CBHS, Germantown, and MUS battle it out to see who will win this first-ever event.
During the summer of 1992 Peter was fortunate to “meet up” with several members of the CBHS cross country team. An avid runner, competing in numerous 5k races since he was 10 years old, he began training with them throughout the summer and officially joined the team as a freshman that Fall. During his freshman season Peter participated on the JV team and was consistently at the front of the pack during meets. Peter’s sophomore season saw him continue to excel as he was in the top three of the varsity squad. He qualified for the state meet and finished 37th overall with a time of 16:23.
He was also selected to the Class AAA All-Metro cross country team that year. Peter and the rest of the CBHS cross country team were anticipating a strong season in the Fall of 1994. On the morning of June 16, however, while driving to meet some of his teammates for an early morning training run, Peter was involved in a serious car accident. Unfortunately, he passed away early the next morning from his injuries.
Aside from cross country, Peter also excelled in the classroom carrying a 4.0+ GPA. In addition, he ran track, swam competitively, and was a member of the Brothers’ freshman basketball team.
As a way to honor Peter’s legacy, the members of the CBHS cross country team voted to participate in all the varsity meets with 6 runners vs. the normal 7 for the Fall 1994 season. In addition, in commemoration, they added a shamrock to their jerseys.
Coach Dwyer (CBHS Head Coach, 2005 to present)
For me as a runner, I wore it with great pride and knew I was carrying on a memory of a Brother to whom I was connected but had never met. As I got older and struck up a relationship with the O’Reilly’s, it took on a different meaning. One that only a parent can really understand. Since I’ve been a coach, it’s an opportunity it’s to educate the guys on being a part of a legacy that they can’t quite fathom just yet. The shamrock reminds us we are all part of a legacy and each of us has a responsibility to uphold the past by being the best we can be in the present. We all have a part in upholding Peter’s memory but also understand we are a part of something far greater than just ourselves.
All proceeds benefit the Memphis Youth Athletics organization.