The push for track and field facilities is hitting several areas.
Two area high schools in the Wiregrass – Enterprise and Abbeville -- are in the process of building or bidding to have one.
Enterprise has already started work on an eight-lane track as well as an eight-court tennis facility on the southwest side of the campus.
Abbeville, meanwhile, plans to put down a track in a project that will also put in new baseball and softball fields on the east side of the campus. The project is still in the planning stages with the Henry County School Board, though Superintendent Chris Padget was hopeful the system will have a bid opening for the projects within the next month.
Currently, teams in the Wiregrass have to go to Troy to compete on a rubberized track facility.
Both schools hope to have the facilities ready for the spring, though Abbeville’s could be a push depending on the timeline and weather issues following the bid process.
“We are excited to have it,” Enterprise athletic director Trent Trawick said of the track/tennis facilities. “I know our coaches and our athletes are excited to have it. They are eager to have a home meet in the spring on campus.”
“We are just grateful to know that progress has started,” Abbeville principal Darryl Brooks said of the track/baseball and softball facilities there. “We can’t wait to get those on campus. It will be beneficial to our children to have them on campus.”
In both communities, track teams have had to practice and run on grassy fields and in the parking lot, while the other sports – baseball and softball in Abbeville and tennis in Enterprise – have had to practice and compete at venues two to four miles away. The track at Abbeville will also have a football practice field inside the track, allowing football players to stay on campus for practice.
“We won’t have to go from one place to another,” Brooks said.
The Enterprise track, along with the tennis facility, is nearly “75 percent” complete, according to Trawick. Both will have lights, allowing the school to compete at night, if needed.
“They have black-topped both the track and tennis courts (in mid-June),” Trawick said. “It has to stay black-topped for 30 days to make sure it doesn’t pond water anywhere or we have low spots or cracks. We are anticipating them back in the next two weeks to put the final surface on both the track and tennis courts.”
Trawick said the final layer should be completed sometime in early to mid-August, depending on any potential weather delays. Athletes should be able to use both within the next month.
“Tennis can do some off-season workouts that are allowed by the AHSAA and cross country can do some short running work on the track when the facility is ready,” Trawick said.
The Enterprise track will also include all the field events.
“All the pits for high jump, long jump, standing broad jump, javelin and discus – all that is being constructed as we speak,” Trawick said.
The area will have a gate booth for both sports along with a rectangular building that will house concession stands, restrooms and storage areas that will face toward each sport. Work on the building has started, but will be finished later than the track and tennis parts. It should be ready by the spring.
“The slab has been poured and the plumbing has been done,” Trawick said. “Hopefully, they will start laying blocks on Monday.”
The only drawback for Enterprise is that the cross country teams will not be able to host home meets this year since part of their course was located in the construction area. Trawick said the school will work with cross country next year to re-establish a home meet course.
“Ever since I became athletic director five years ago, it has been my desire to have all our facilities on campus,” Trawick said. “This is two more of the sports now that are on campus.”
Trawick hopes to move the softball and baseball teams, who currently play at the Enterprise Recreation Complex a couple of miles north, to campus in the future.
“It is important, in my opinion, to have these facilities on campus,” Trawick said. “It brings a lot of pride to your program and allows these kids to have their home meets on their school campus. It is important to the coaches to practice there and have everything that they need.”
At Abbeville, the process of getting a track/field facility as well as baseball and softball fields on campus has started, but it is more in the beginning stages.
“We have approved the final plans for it, but it hasn’t gone to the bid process,” Padget said. “A lot of land still has to be moved and elevated to level it out.”
Padget expected that to be done in the next week and that the required two-week process for bids would commence following that. The Henry County School Board could then open the bids and act on them either during a special-called meeting later this month or at a regularly-scheduled meeting on Aug. 13.
“The baseball and softball fields are important, but it is imperative that track also be done,” Padget said, noting the school doesn’t have one right now.
The baseball and softball fields will both have lights, while the track doesn’t have lights in the initial plans, said Padget.
A press box, a concession stand and restroom area will be constructed in between the baseball and softball fields, which also has a batting cage in the plans.
While the baseball and softball field will be located directly behind (east of) the bus shop area, the track and field facility will likely be to the south of the bus area.