All-weather track, new football bleachers ready at Elmwood (6-30-12)
Written by KEVIN GORDON, Sentinel Assistant Sports Editor
Saturday, 30 June 2012 00:05
JERRY CITY — Monica Arnold first learned of Elmwood’s plans to build an all-weather track when she was a sprinter for the Royals in the late 1980s.
|Elmwood’s renovated football bleachers and track are ready for the 2012-13 academic year (Photo: J.D. Pooley/Sentinel-Tribune)
Those plans have finally become a reality.
The finishing touches are being put on Elmwood’s eight-lane all-weather track that is part of $1.7 million renovation of the school’s football stadium.
The project includes new bleachers on both sides of the stadium and a new press box.
The all-weather track replaces the original track installed when the facility was built over 50 years ago.
“I get sappy about the whole thing because it’s a dream come true for the entire community, not just for myself or the track athletes,” said Arnold, who won a state championship in the 200 as a senior in 1988.
Arnold, the former Monica Stone, has been Elmwood’s girls track coach for four seasons.
“To have it fulfilled is unbelievable,” Arnold said. “A lot of people have put in a lot of hard work into getting it done. It will be well worth it.”
Arnold said Elmwood hasn’t had a home varsity track meet in “at least 15 years,” although middle school meets have been held there the last two years.
Construction began in January and the Royals were unable to practice on the cinders this season after the track was torn up.
Elmwood worked out on the football practice field and often traveled to Bowling Green State University and area high schools to practice on regular tracks, especially before big meets.
The practices at the area high schools have been common for years. The track didn’t have a high jump area, and even the long jump, pole vault, shot put and discus areas were substandard.
The new track will have new areas for all five field events.
Now, the Royals’ facilities are as good as any school in the Northern Buckeye Conference.
Despite not having a home track this season, Elmwood still had three individuals and one relay team qualify for the state meet.
Elmwood will host the NBC meet and the John Ramsey Invitational next season. Ramsey, who died in 2000, was a teacher and coach at the school.
“This is something the entire community can be proud of,” said Eric Poffenbaugh, Elmwood’s boys track coach for seven seasons. “People here can watch our athletes because can have home meets now.”
Arnold and Poffenbaugh believe the new facility will help them encourage more athletes to come out for the team.
“Its not going to hurt,” Poffenbaugh said. “We’ve been doing pretty well with the facilities we’ve had and this is just going to enhance what we’re doing. We tried to do as much as we could here, but it wasn’t the same as going to a regular track.”
This season, Elmwood’s boys finished third in the NBC and the girls were fourth.
“The kids who have been a program for a bit will appreciate it more, knowing what they’ve been through,” Poffenbaugh said.
With the all-weather track, the Royals can work out whenever they want. At the start of each season, they’ve had to wait for the cinder track to dry. Early-seasn workouts often were in the gym. There were seasons when their first time on the track was the team’s first meet.
“The sprinters will benefit the most because they’ll be able to use their starting blocks and the relay teams will be able to work on their exchanges,” Arnold said. “We’ve had to guesstimate stuff and mark the distances with orange cones.”
The Royals have been running on their new track this summer.
“They’re excited,” Poffenbaugh said.
Former Elmwood track coach Denny Severin had plans for an all-weather track in the late 1980s and eventually gave his file to Arnold.
Severin is now an art teacher at Lake Denoon Middle School in Muskego, Wis., located southwest of Milwaukee.
Arnold and Poffenbaugh praised superintendent Tony Borton, athletic director Michele Story, dean of students/assistant high school principal Dean Bell and the Elmwood Athletic Boosters for making the track a reality. Plans were approved last year.
“I always thought we’d see this day,” Arnold said. “I wasn’t going to give up until we had something like this. This was my goal, my dream, whether I was coaching or not. Every school deserves an all-weather track.”
Still to be completed are the landscaping around the track and the painting of the concession/football building next to the track.
New fencing has been added and the cinder area outside the track has been replaced by asphalt and concrete. There’s also a brick wall than runs in front of the bleachers.
“What we had was wonderful and it served its time,” Story said. “It stood for 53 years, but it was time for a renovation. The bleachers are wonderful. Our crowd is going to be very impressed when they see it.”
The seating on the home side has been increased from about 1,000 to 1,500. Visitors seating will remain at about 500.
The new home bleachers also have 117 reserved chair back seats in front of the press box. Story said there are only 20 of those remaining to be sold.
“People have loved those, especially getting the chance to come out and pick their seat location,” Story said. “They’ve sat in the seats, moved around and picked where they wanted to sit. Once you sit in one, it’s sold. The seats are very nice.”
The stadium also has a new scoreboard and the lighting has been improved. The number of light poles has been increased from four to five.
“There are fewer lights on each pole, but the lighting is greater and they use less energy,” Story said.
The press box is spacious, with large, separate booths for the Royals’ and opposing coaching staffs. The main section in the press box has two rows of seating for the scoreboard operators, statisticians and media.
Story said plaques for Elmwood’s three state track champions — Arnold, Kenny Bateson and Katie Reiser — eventually will be displayed at the track.
Last Updated on Saturday, 30 June 2012 08:14