Athlete. A 1924 Gothenburg graduate, Welch attended Berwyn High School until his junior year. He played football at Gothenburg and was a four-year letterman in basketball at Berwyn and Gothenburg, but track is where he excelled, never losing a mile race in Nebraska. As a junior, he won the mile and was second in the 880 at the state meet. He won the 880 and mile as a senior and competed in the National Interscholastic Track Meet at the University of Chicago, beating 53 runners in the mile under rainy conditions with a winning time of 4 minutes, 35.3 seconds. His only loss in the mile was at the Drake Relays. At Hastings College, he was all-conference in football and basketball his junior and senior years, and on the track, set the state conference records in the 880 and mile as a freshman.