Teams competing at the Hotchkiss Bulldog Track and Field Invitational on March 24 will have something to really sink their cleats into following improvements to Bulldog Stadium last summer.
Among those improvements are a new surface on the eight-lane track, new high jump pad, and long and triple jump runways.
"It's so nice," said longtime track coach Kelly Cowan during a recent practice. "The surface needed to be replaced."
More than a year ago the track was stripped down to its asphalt base in preparation for re-surfacing. As a result, Hotchkiss moved its annual invitational meet last spring to Delta High School. While moving the meet was a big inconvenience, resurfacing the track was a matter of safety.
When water would leach in below the surface, the asphalt base would crack from the freeze-and-thaw cycle and the clay soil below would settle, resulting in cracks and uneven surfaces. The inside lane, especially on the curves, was uneven and unsafe.
Exposing the base to the open air, said Cowan, allowed it to dry out before applying the new surface.
Fisher Tracks out of Boone, Iowa, resurfaced the track with a rubbery polyurethane base mat that's soft and permeable. Cowan said the rubberized surface offers better grip for runners, and for jumpers and hurdlers who really need the traction. "As a coach, you have to worry about slipping," he said. The old surface was wearing away and in some places, including the launch points for the jumps, was worn smooth.
The springier soft surface also means fewer shin splints and other injuries caused from training on hard surfaces.
The facility also has new handicap accessible home bleachers, and the new visitor bleachers allow for excellent views of the long jump, said Cowan.
Delta, Cedaredge, Paonia and Hotchkiss will compete this Saturday at the Panther Invitational at Delta High School. Schedules, meet records and other information can be found at scottmeets.wikispaces.com. Heat sheets are posted the night prior to the meets, and results are posted after completion of each event.