Foul weather, football turf delay new track

Sallie Beard - Athletics Director

Sallie Beard – Athletics Director

Missouri Southern’s men’s and women’s outdoor track and field teams have been without a track to practice on for almost a year now. Construction on the track was delayed, in part, by uncooperative weather and delays to the improvement of the football field.

“Naturally it has been frustrating,” said Tom Rutledge, men’s head coach. “We lost our track for last year’s conference meet and ended up finishing third in the conference. When you don’t have the facilities, it makes it difficult to train, and training is the key to any successful situation.”

“It has presented somewhat of a hardship,” said Patty Vavra, women’s head coach.

Although the current situation with the track has proved to be the source of some frustration for both teams, they also know that when the construction reaches completion, they will have one of the top facilities in the area to practice and hold competitions on.

“We are going to have an awesome outdoor track,” Rutledge said. “It’s just getting to that point that is the main thing right now. It’s going to be a fabulous track – one of the best tracks in the country.”

Both coaches think that their players have been understanding throughout the ordeal, even though it is their training that is most affected by the lack of the facilities.

“They’ve done a great job of understanding the situation,” Vavra said. “And we’ve been able to get some alternate sites for training a few days a week.”

For now, the Lions have been practicing at the Leggett & Platt Athletic Center and at Thomas Jefferson Day School, alternating between the two sites.

One of the features that makes Southern’s new track unique is that it will have what is called a “full pour,” meaning the full depth of the material is polyurethane and rubber.

“It’s going to be a fast track,” Rutledge said.

“When you start seeing it all come together, as it is now, it is very exciting,” Vavra said.

“If we wanted a cheap track, we could have had it done sooner,” said Sallie Beard, athletic director. “We could have had instant gratification, and then in six or eight years we would have had to turn around and put a lot of money back into it. This track will serve us well for 15 to 20 years.”

“It’s been tough,” Rutledge said. “But there are a lot of positive things involved, too. And if you keep a positive state of mind, then you can make it work.”