The following individuals will be honored for their contributions to the sport of high school cross country in Illinois as the 2017 IHSA Cross Country Honorary Officials at the State Final Meet on Saturday, November 4, 2017:
Paul Beiersdorf is a swimmer by trade and a part of the IHSA Cross Country State Finals by passion. He grew up on the North Shore, where he earned All-American honors as a swimmer at New Trier High School, leading to a collegiate swimming career at Illinois State University.
After college, Paul remained in central Illinois, teaching and coaching in the Peoria area. Around 1980, he began to volunteer at the IHSA Cross Country State Finals and has remained a fixture ever since. His responsibilities have varied over the years, including spending two decades reading the splits at the 1.5-mile marker. For the past dozen years, he has been responsible for delivering at least one of the course vehicles.
Paul taught physically and mentally impaired children, was a vocational work coordinator, high school counselor and advisor at Illinois Central College throughout his work career. Additionally, he has coached swimming at the high school and youth levels for over 30 years.
Paul continues to reside in Peoria with his wife of over 30 years, Connie. They have three children Lauren, Claire and Ian, as well as four grandchildren. He is a past President of the Anshai Emeth Congregation, served on the Temple Board and is currently serving as the Social Action Chair. He also serves as a Regional Chair for the Union of Reform Jews, as well as the Board for the Peoria Promise program.
Galen Bennett was a runner in high school, competing in cross country and track & field at Byron High School. A track & field state meet qualifier as a student-athlete, he has come full circle as one of the key individuals for the famed annual state meet at Detweiller Park in Peoria.
Following his qualification in the state track meet in 1977, he maintained his interest in cross country and track & field after graduating, but wouldn’t realize his calling until almost two decades later. After encouragement from Oregon native and 40-year IHSA track & field official Harry Fletcher, Galen joined ranks as an IHSA track & field official in 1995 and added cross country officiating duties nine years ago.
Galen has been assigned to work numerous IHSA Sectional and State Final Cross Country meets in a variety of roles throughout his career, including as a Clerk and Head Clerk of the Course. He was the State Final Referee in 2009, and two years later was selected as the Starter for the Class 2A Boys’ race.
Galen is a member of the Illinois Track and Cross Country Official’s Association (ITCCOA ) and previously served as the President of the association.
Galen resides in Byron with his wife Denise and has two children, Kelli and Kole. He has worked for the Byron Fire District for the last 36 years and currently holds the position of Fire Chief.