Cracked track

Seven years. That’s how long it has been since an outdoor track meet was held at BG. The last time the current track was resurfaced, there was a different Bush in the White House and it shows.

The Whittaker Track Facility is in quite a state of disrepair. It is riddled with fissures and holes due to a failing substructure, broken joints and over a decade’s wear and tear.

The various pits to the practice jumps are completely unusable, which makes a difference when switching from indoor to outdoor track. Just about the only thing still in decent shape are the throwing areas, and even they are not much to look at.

With new, modern facilities springing up all over the state such as the beautiful indoor facility at Akron or the recently built Jesse Owens track at Ohio State, it has made it difficult for BG to attract all desired athletes.

Even most high school tracks are currently in better shape than BG’s, a fact that has in some ways hindered the progress of the track team when recruiting is concerned.

“It’s hard to tell [a recruit] that you care about track and field when the track looks the way it does,” coach Cami Wells said.

But all of that is about to change. Plans are currently under way to remove the current track facility and build a new one.

Vasco Sports, located in Massillon, Ohio, builders of the Football Hall of Fame Fawcett Stadium in Canton, has been given the contract to replace the old track with a new $770,000 facility complete with a new eight lane track with wider, smoother turns, new jumping areas and new cages for the throwing events.

“We always want to be competitive with the other MAC schools from a facilities standpoint,” said assistant Athletic Director Jim Elsasser.

The track program is not the only one getting new facilities. The football stadium recently got a facelift and the tennis team is set to get eight new tennis courts by mid-summer.

Some details are still being hammered out concerning the budgeting, including whether or not new bleachers will be included.

The current wooden bleachers are in poor condition and new bleachers would be needed if the track program ever wishes to host the MAC outdoor meet any time soon.

Groundbreaking is estimated to take place some time in the next two weeks. The entire project is likely to take 90 days and be completed in mid-July.

“It’s been a long process, but it is what’s best for the athletes and competition,” Wells said. “[A new track] will be very good for practice and recruiting.”

“We’re just excited about the new track and for the women’s track program to have a new facility and get a chance to host some meets,” Elsasser said.