Unfinished track poses concerns for athletes

graphic: Elizabeth Teng

graphic: Elizabeth Teng

After spending four years on a high school team, athletes become stronger physically, mentally, and emotionally. Leaving this team can be a big deal for seniors, and as a result, most try to make their final season their best. Senior track and field sprinter Brandon Yao ’14 is approaching his final season for the PHS team and may have to compete without a track.

“It is going to be hard to imagine training without the outdoor track, especially for my senior season,” he said.

Students hope the track will be complete before or near the start of the spring season, but if not, students will have to accept the fact that they will be spending a second year without an adequate track or any home meets. The track not being complete for this spring would make the 2014 season the second in a row without home track meets, as last year’s track was deemed unfit for competition use. This prospective development is upsetting for many, especially the seniors.

“[The school] should’ve taken care of turf and track … last summer,” added Yao.

However, this demand was not as easy to fulfill as it may seem. After the bid for the project was finally accepted in the spring, a lot of work still had to be done. To avoid the problematic situation of big equipment rolling over the freshly laid track, the turf in the middle was completed first. The old track had to be removed, and then repairs had to be done after holes were found in the track.

“Between the turf and events and weather … they finally got a window of time that they were able to put the asphalt down, but by then, it was too late in the fall to put the track’s surface down,” said Principal Gary Snyder.

Since the track was not finished by the fall due to delays in construction, according to Athletic Director John Miranda, the construction company now must wait for temperatures consistently above 55 degree to start the two- or three-week process.

Many athletes hoped and expected that the turf and track would be completed during the summer, as work on the track occurring during the spring season means athletes will have to refrain from using the turf as well. This issue is expected to have an impact on gym classes, which will have to make do without the additional recreational turf space, and on the lacrosse teams, as it will cut their available practice space.

“It’s all about the timing and when [construction] might happen,” said Snyder. “There’s that weekend in spring break when a couple of the lacrosse teams will be in Florida, so if everything just worked out really nicely [during] that time when we’re not allowed to be on the turf and track, the teams would be in Florida. Then, when they get back, it would be ready.”

The described situation would be ideal, but Snyder admitted that there is a possibility that the lacrosse teams will have to endure a few weeks of practice without use of the turf.

“There will be more teams than we have fields for, so there will potentially be a few weeks in March when [those teams] can’t find a practice spot,” he said.

Since two teams often share the turf for practices by dividing it in half, losing the turf as a place to practice will displace multiple groups of athletes.

“If we can’t use the turf, it [will] significantly affect our ability to practice,” said girls lacrosse Co-Captain Emilia Lopez-Ona ’14. “With the inconsistent spring weather we can’t depend on just the upper field, and there would not be enough space on campus between girls and boys programs.”

Whereas the turf is usually less affected by rainy weather conditions and remains fairly firm, the fields are likely to deteriorate and become muddy and unusable.

Additionally, construction—or lack thereof—will affect the track teams, as the runway and pit used for the long jump and other track and field events are necessary for certain types of athletes to train, and not having them will leave jumpers with practice spaces that they are not used to.

“Without a track, we will have to run on the grass, which is a very different terrain than a track,” said track sprinter and jumper Maia Hauschild ’16. “Especially for sprinters and jumpers, it will be difficult to complete efficient workouts without the track, as well as our runways and pits, being finished.”

As the winter season comes to an end, the administration will be able to get a clear sense of when construction can begin. If it is not possible for the track to be complete for the spring season, then other solutions will have to be considered.

“It is unfortunate that the team does not have a track,” said Yao, “but it comes down to not what we have, but what we do with what we have.”