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Houston Stadium track deemed unfit
District unsure where meets will be held
THE FLINT JOURNAL FIRST EDITION
Tuesday, April 18, 2006
By Dan Nilsen
firstname.lastname@example.org Ã¢â‚¬Â¢ 810.766.6394
Flint's high school track athletes are looking for a place to run after the Houston Stadium track was deemed unfit for high school competition.
All high school meets scheduled at the facility next to Northwestern Preparatory Academy have been postponed indefinitely while Flint Community Schools officials seek alternative sites and make plans to repair the track.
Elementary school and middle school events will continue to be held at Houston because those athletes do not wear spiked shoes.
"The track is not conducive to running a quality high school meet," said Larry Watkins, director of pupil personnel services and athletics/recreation. "We're working hard on getting some renovations done. We're going to go after the dollars."
The rubberized track is worn down to asphalt in some places, especially on the inside lane. Cracks span the width of the nine-lane track in other areas, probably where drainage tiles into the infield have broken, surmised Flint Olympian Games track director Marty Crane. The pole vault facility also does not meet Michigan High School Athletic Association specifications.
"They're probably going to have to take out all the asphalt and repair the tile areas," said Crane, who estimated the cost of a complete overhaul at roughly a half-million dollars.
The track was last treated in 1991, but that was only to have a sealant applied to the surface, Crane said. Such a covering actually prevents the rubber from breathing and can lead to further damage, he said.
Houston Stadium, named for former Northern coach Guy Houston, was one of the first rubberized tracks in the area when it opened alongside the new Northwestern High in 1964.
The once-proud facility hosted several Class A state meets, the last one in 1986. The Saginaw Valley Conference meet was run there as late as 2001, and the Mott Relays were held there through 2002 before moving to Grand Blanc.
At least five dual meets were scheduled at Houston this spring, including today's dual between Southwestern Academy and Northern. The city meet is slated for May 3, but might be postponed until a site can be found.
Meanwhile, Northwestern athletes continue to train at Houston, using only the outside lanes.
"The outside lanes are in really good condition," said Wildcats coach Eddie Williams. "We use the stagger starts.
"The kids are taking it well. They say as long as they can still train, they're fine. They're optimistic and ready to compete."
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