Athletic department considers locations for track team this spring
by Hallie Underwood, ’20
Junior Ellen Sneed waits impatiently for the sound of the gunshot. A loud boom and she’ll be off: red-colored dust collecting on the soles on her spikes as she darts around the track, the finish the only thing on her mind. There is only a moment where she’s ahead, but she’s made it. Chugging water and bending as she catches her breath, Sneed is content. With a grin, she looks up at the Marv’s stadium seats and sees the crowd of students and parents supporting the team.
Though track season is still months away, the athletic department is already in the planning stages for where the track team will practice this spring.
As UAHS prepares to undergo construction that is scheduled to begin March 11, the athletic department has been working with athletes, coaches, and parents in order to provide them the smoothest transition possible. The first ground to be broken is the land accompanying the Marv Moorehead Stadium and its surrounding area. While many spring teams have relocated, the track team, which begins its practices the week before Spring Break continues to look for a place to practice and hold its annual invitational.
“This Spring, there is nothing here,” Athletic Director Mike Pusateri said. “It’s going to be a construction site.”
Sneed admits that the school’s famed stadium added an atmosphere to the season that will remain unmatched until the construction is complete.
“Being at an actual track is very important,” Sneed said. “Being at the Marv had to happen.”
Head coach Latisha Wilder agrees.
“I do think having a home facility is an advantage. There is familiarity with being in your own space. Not to mention there is the opportunity to come early or stay a little later for extra work or to make use of the facility during non-mandatory practice times,” Wilder said. “I also think the community is more likely to support the home events versus those that are away.”
Pusateri admits that there will be consequences to the construction where the Marv resides. No home meets will be held during the season, practices will occur at a different track, and the Larkin, the team’s invitational that invites eleven additional schools to compete, will also be relocated.
“This Spring, there is nothing here. It’s going to be a construction site.” – Athletic Director Mike Pusateri
“It’s definitely not essential that we have a home meet, but it’s pretty cool to have all these schools come and compete. It’s the Larkin-Coffman Classic, and a lot of schools really like it and they like our track. It’s a fast track,” Sneed said in regards to the home invitational.
Listing a couple of different ideas, Pusateri included splitting time between Jones Middle School and Hastings Middle School. The athletic department has worked closely with the middle schools in hopes to find room for the team in their busy schedule. At 3:45, the track and field teams begin running their two laps to initiate another practice.
Although working within the district and proximity provide positives, lacrosse and softball both share the Jones field. With the multitude of sports provided for middle school students, Hastings has a similar athletic schedule.
The Larkin-Coffman Classic location also remains unresolved. For a large event, universities are being seen at potential options. UAHS has discussed the option of hosting the event at The Jesse Owens Stadium, located at The Ohio State University, yet even using the space once poses a risk.
“It’s definitely not essential that we have a home meet, but it’s pretty cool to have all these schools come and compete,” Sneed said. “It’s the Larkin-Coffman Classic, and a lot of schools really like it and they like our track. It’s a fast track,”
The athletic department remains reluctant because if Ohio State must host a regional meet, they can break the contract even shortly before the meet. Wilder has regularly met with Pusateri to discuss these plans. Fortunately, they have been told the construction will only affect this year.
“They all have their flaws,” Pusateri said. Fortunately for the team, the track and field team will only be without a home stadium for one year.
“Right now, we have been told that construction will displace the track and field program for just one season,” Wilder said. “So, unless there are problems that arise to hold up the timeline, our team should be back on site for the 2020 season.”
Although the new construction presents difficulties for the track team and its many fans, Pusateri says that the track and field team has one of the strongest parent groups for UAHS athletics.
“They’re keeping us on their toes,” Pusateri said. Since the announcement of the new school with the pass of the 2017 levy, parents of track and field athletes made their voices heard in the relocation process, and continue to meet with Pusateri and other prominent figures in this dilemma.
Although many options are still being considered, athletes, directors, parents, and coaches remain optimistic.
“The new construction will provide challenges for many sports and for the community – but I think that if everyone works together the transition from old to new can be done without harm to the individual programs,” Wilder said. “We must also remember that to get the new and improved school and facilities we have to go through the phase that is not comfortable or easy for us and we will just appreciate the end result even more.”
For Pusateri, working on relocating each spring sport requires finding inspiration in UAHS athletes that value an abundant amount of teamwork. “Everybody is going to have to pull together,” Pusateri said. “If we start fighting with each other, it won’t work. Everybody is suffering a little bit. We just have to get through it.”