Bulldog Invitational Renamed For Ray Helsing

Bulldog Invitational Renamed For Ray Helsing

The annual home cross country invitational hosted by Ferris State University each fall has been renamed in honor of a former head coach in an announcement made today (Aug. 17) by the FSU Athletics Department.

The "Ray Helsing Bulldog Invitational" will help honor Ray Helsing, who guided the Bulldog cross country along with track and field programs from 1968-82.  It will also help create awareness for the scholarship endowment founded recently in his name.

"We're excited to be able to honor an outstanding coach and person who did so much to build our program at Ferris State," said current Bulldog men's and women's cross country/track coach Steve Picucci.  "This meet has traditionally been a top event and to have his name associated with it will only help add to its legacy."

Helsing was inducted into the Bulldog Athletics Hall of Fame in 2001 and no coach in Ferris history tutored more All-Americans.  He helped produce 20 All-Americans in cross country and track from 1968-82 and was best known for founding and coaching Ferris cross country, leading his teams to a 77-17 dual meet mark and four Great Lakes Conference titles.

Twice named NCAA Division II Great Lakes Region Coach of the Year, Helsing also served as president of the NCAA-II Cross Country Coaches Association. In 1980, he led FSU to a fourth place finish at the D-II Championships.

Helsing coached 15 All-Americans in the men's indoor and outdoor track programs. In addition, he began the swimming program, serving as head coach from 1970-72. From 1969-75, he had a 53-39 mark as the school's second men's tennis coach.

A graduate of Springfield (MA) College, Helsing competed in track and cross country while in college and was honored by his alma mater when a classmate founded the Ray Helsing Student Scholarship Fund with a $500,000 gift.  The FSU scholarship endowment for track/cross country was founded in his name in 2007.

This year's "Ray Helsing Bulldog Invitational" will be held on Friday, Sept. 18, at FSU's Katke Golf Course in Big Rapids.  The event will include both high school and college men's and women's divisions with the first race starting at 4 p.m. (EDT). The invitational is open to the public and admission is free of charge.

This year (2009) will mark the 34th-straight (35th overall) running of the Bulldog Invitational. Either a men's or women's collegiate event has been held each year since 1976. The Bulldog men have won the event twice while the women have claimed nine team championships to date, including five of the last nine years.