CSU begins outdoor season without home track

Mamadou Balde

The start of spring means the start of a new outdoor track season. The Colorado State Rams kicked off their season last weekend with success; multiple Rams set program records in different events and some athletes earned spots on CSU’s all-time outdoor list. Despite their success, this season will look different than previous seasons for the team due to the fact they will be without their home outdoor track, Jack Christiansen Memorial Track.

Track under construction.
The $2.4 million upgrade to the Jack Christiansen Memorial Track still sits unfinished. The track was originally scheduled to be finished by the end of October 2017 but still is without grass or a running surface, old track equipment litters the site. Construction began June 12, 2017 and is has now been rescheduled to finish May 1, 2018. (Matt Tackett | Collegian)

The track, which is named after Pro-Football Hall of Famer Jack Christiansen, opened in 1989 and has since hosted three conference championships. Christiansen Memorial is currently under a remodel with a budget of $2.4 million, according to a statement from CSU.

Ad

Since the new track is not yet ready, the Rams will be unable to host any of their own meets this season such as the annual Jack Christiansen Invitational. Instead, CSU has reached an agreement with the University of Northern Colorado which has allowed the Rams to use their facilities to host the NOCO Challenge.

CSU began the remodel on June 12, 2017 with the demolition of the previous track. CSU has not remodeled the track in almost ten years when a press box and seats were added in 2008.

“It has been decades since the track’s surface was replaced; it has reached a critical state of disrepair,” Director of Athletics Joe Parker said in a release. “For our track & field students to safely train and compete, we needed to address the deteriorating conditions and a full replacement, including the substrate, was necessary. When completed, we will have one of the finest running surfaces in the country.”

The decision to remodel came after the Rams had one of their most successful track and field seasons in program history. The team placed 12th at the 2016-2017 NCAA Indoor Championships. The team even set the program record for most indoor All-Americans with seven and tied the program record for most outdoor All-Americans with five.

Without their home track this season the Rams have had to find other ways to practice and prepare for competition during this outdoor season. The team has hurdled their largest obstacle thanks to help from the Poudre School District, which has allowed the distance runners to practice at French Field at Rocky Mountain High School in the morning.

“We use the morning hours over there and luckily we’ve made some adjustments with class schedules,” track and field head coach Brian Bedard said. “So most of our team works out there in the morning before the high school’s practice. We got permission for the throwers to use our current outdoor facility but that’s the only events we’ll compete on up there.”

Plans for the remodel of the track were made with the idea of improving times for distance runners, sprinters and hurdlers. The entire track will be replaced, including the base of the track, and current plans have been tailored so that runners will be able to take advantage of wind regardless of which direction they run along the straightaways. The plan also includes an increase to the radius of turns on the track which should, in theory, improve times.

To allow for added space, the runways for the long- and triple-jump will be relocated. Runways for the pole vault will be relocated as well. The high jump and javelin arena will also be expanded for added space. The team’s hammer and discus cage will also be relocated and will be accompanied by a pair of shot put throwing areas on either side of the cage.

The team hopes that the remodel will help improve the quality of home meets while also enhancing the quality of training and recruiting.

“Our staff and athletes are extremely excited about the new facility,” Bedard said. “It will help move our program forward on several levels. We are thankful to everyone involved who helped make this possible.”

Ad

Christiansen Memorial was originally scheduled to be finished by the end of October 2017 but was delayed. The new anticipated reopening date for Jack Christiansen track is set for May 1. Until then, the Rams will be without their home track.  

“We’re just making it work the best we can. We’ve got a veteran staff that’s doing a great job working out the logistics,” Bedard said. “The athletes aren’t complaining, they’re doing a great job with that, staying positive and we had a good first meet outdoor so we feel good about where we’re at.”

CSU will continue the outdoor season this weekend with three different meets. Distance runners will compete at the San Francisco State Distance Carnival on Friday before competing at the Stanford Invitational on Friday and Saturday. Other members of the team will compete at the Tom Benich Invitational in Greely, Colorado on Saturday.

Collegian sports reporter Mamadou Balde can be reached at sports@collegian.com or on Twitter @mamadoubalde62.