Chippewa track taking shape

 

Manistee’s new outdoor running track, as seen on Friday behind the Manistee Middle School/High School. The asphalt base is down, and crews are waiting for it to cure before the application of the final running surface. (Scott Yoshonis/News Advocate)

Manistee’s new outdoor running track, as seen on Friday behind the Manistee Middle School/High School. The asphalt base is down, and crews are waiting for it to cure before the application of the final running surface. (Scott Yoshonis/News Advocate)

MANISTEE — What has long been a dream for the Manistee High School track program is becoming reality.

The long-awaited track and soccer facility is moving along on schedule, with the most obvious sign of progress being the asphalt base for the track surface itself, which was laid down this week.

That base needs to cure for at least 15 days before the running surface can be applied.

At the Manistee Area Public School Board of Education meeting on Monday, superintendent Ron Stoneman told the News Advocate that there are still concerns about drainage and the construction of an access road to the track, but that they were being addressed.

With the next varsity track season not beginning until next March, there seems to be plenty of time to iron out final details.

Now that the facility is actually under construction one might think that the annual Firecracker 5K run, which has served to raise funds and awareness for the hitherto potential track is no longer necessary, or that the funds raised will go in another direction.

One would be wrong. With the track comes a hefty obligation for future maintenance, to keep the facility one of which the track program, school and community can be proud.

Race director and Manistee track coach Eric Thuemmel said that the race will still benefit the track program at Manistee.

“Every seven to 10 years we’ll have to resurface it, and that becomes a sizable job,” Thuemmel said. “Rather than going to the voters and asking for a handout, we’d rather keep the 5K race going and keep that track going into the future.”

The new track should be mostly complete by the day of the race, which will warm the hearts of many runners and others who have worked so hard, and run many miles, with the once-elusive goal in mind.

Thuemmel said that his boys track team has been looking forward to having a home, and planning accordingly.

“The plan even last year was to have a solid team for the first year that we had a track,” Thuemmel said. “We’re really pushing for that, guys and girls both.”

Thuemmel, a math teacher at Manistee, said that he has looked longingly at the construction from his classroom since it broke ground last spring.

“(I) can’t really put it into words,” Thuemmel said. “Even now that school is out, I’m out there every day watching what they’re doing.”

Many of the participants in the Firecracker 5K share his enthusiasm.

“It’s just so exciting,” he said. “Some of the runners who come up every year who don’t live in this area were emailing back to me that they were thrilled that it’s finally happening.

“It’s kind of like a dream, but it’s finally happening.”

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Posted by Scott Yoshonis

Scott is the sports editor of the Manistee News Advocate. You can reach him at (231) 398-3112 or syoshonis@pioneergroup.com.

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