As it sits now, the stone track at Woodmore High School is unmarked, leaving the track team unable to practice passing a baton at the designated exchange zones during relay races.
"It hinders their performance in meets," varsity boys' track coach David Anderson said. The aging track does not allow Woodmore to host any track meets. In fact, he said the varsity girls' track team was disqualified from a relay race at last week's meet with Elmwood because members unknowingly ran out of the exchange zone.
A nonprofit group is hoping to change all of that.
Members of Communities Achieving Goals for Extracurriculars - CAGE - have been working for more than a year to raise money needed to renovate Woodmore's athletic facilities. They finally saw what they've been working toward last week when dirt was turned over to improve the track-and-field facilities.
"We're under way," said CAGE secretary Thomas E. Noe. "We're moving full steam ahead."
During last week's initial construction, he said concrete was poured for the shotput and discus pads near what will be a new, eight-lane, all-weather track with rubber topping that will include long-jump, pole-vault, and high-jump areas.
"We've worked hard for a long, long time and finally being at the point of moving dirt and pouring concrete is a lovely, lovely thing," CAGE president David Nevergall said.
The main construction will take place after track season is over so the team can still practice at home. On May 8, officials will begin excavating the track and installing the new stone base. When the $112,000 project is complete, the school will be able to host meets and the track will be open for the community as well.
Authorities from Re-New Athletic Services of Gibsonburg, Ohio, are managing the project, and the design is being finalized by officials at Poggemeyer Design Group of Bowling Green.
CAGE, made up of parents, school officials, and community members, was originally going to start by making improvements to the school's football field but then decided that the track needed more immediate attention.
"The football field is in good shape," Mr. Nevergall said. "It's not crying out for help. The track is the focus of this first phase and that's where we need to put our money and our energies."
Members of the group have secured a line of credit that they have not yet tapped into because fund-raising efforts have continued. To date, the group has managed to raise $80,000 in cash in addition to tens of thousands of dollars in pledge payments.
CAGE attempted to begin renovating the district's athletic facilities in 2001 but couldn't get adequate funding for construction to start.
After a $40,000 pledge from Coca-Cola Co. was secured, about 50 CAGE members regrouped in 2004 to compile new estimates for the projects.
The Woodmore Local Board of Education gave the approval in December, 2004, for CAGE to move ahead with the improvements as long as the group fully funds the project.
While additional phases are contingent upon fund raising or donated materials and labor, plans include adding bleachers and fencing in the stadium and around the track, erecting an entrance building with rest rooms and an open area for eating, building locker-room facilities, and revamping the football practice fields.