After 12 years of extended use by thousands of athletes, Mansfield’s High School track will finally get its first major upgrade. With visible cracks, tears, and wrinkles making the surface virtually unsafe to continue hosting meets, the red quarter mile oval and its adjacent runways will get a new surface.
Beginning on September 9th, work on the surface area itself will begin. Concrete has already been laid in heavily damaged areas in support of the preliminary repairs. Also a new form was poured to connect the long jump runways in advance of the covering process.
“In 2005 when we first hosted meets, the long jump runways were fine,” commented Mansfield women’s athletic director and head track coach John Mackey. “Over the life of the our track, jumpers have gotten so good and began jumping so much farther that most need to start in the grass. This extended runway will be so much better. The women and especially the men will now get a full runway. It will make our qualifying meets much more exciting.”
Because of the work on the MHS facility, schedules and community use will be interrupted. Two little league football games played on the field inside the track had to be moved to away venues for September 10th and September 24th. Also, local walking traffic will be turned away by locked entrance gates to prevent damage to the sensitive surface materials.
The timetable for complete repairs will last approximately 3-weeks. Major mending will wait until after a senior high football home game verses Lincoln on September 16. A pair of junior high contests during that time will be allowed during but access to specific track areas will be limited.
“This is a good thing for both the athletes and the community,” said Mackey. “We host about seven track meets a year. There have been times we’ve had as many as 27 schools attend one of our senior high meets. That’s over 700 athletes at one time. This track gets a lot of use, not to mention locals walk on it nearly every day.”
The track refurbishing project looks to be complete around the end of September. That of course is contingent on weather conditions cooperating.
The anticipated September 29th completion date hopes to give enough cure time for a scheduled senior high football game on October 7.
On that first Friday in October, the MHS administration plans to conduct a re-dedication ceremony to celebrate the new surface. All former and current track athletes that have been a part of the track’s history to this point are invited for the halftime ceremony.
“Since the track was originally constructed, Mansfield has won 7 indoor and 5 outdoor state track championships,” beamed Mackey. “We’ve had many individual success stories on both the men’s and women’s side. We’ve also won 10 consecutive district championships with the girls.”
“It would be fantastic to fill up the bleachers will former players,” continued the coach. “They are the ones that really built this place. To let them come down for a giant reunion and participate in a rededication ceremony would be a huge thing for this community.”
Community members should be aware that access to facilities will be limited or closed completely during repair time.