COUNTY TO HOST 1ST MEET: State-of-the-art track facility set for Saturday opening

Published 12:05 am Thursday, April 11, 2019

Covington County Schools will host their first meet this Saturday at their new track and field facility. Straughn, Red Level, Pleasant Home, Florala, and T.R. Miller are participating in the meet.

“We are really excited to get things started this weekend,” Covington County Schools Superintendent Shannon Driver said. “This is great addition to our community. We are very excited to see what these kids can do. The kids are very excited also.”

Driver said things would get started at 2 p.m., on Saturday.

“Weather permitting, we will have the opening ceremony at 2 p.m.,” Driver said. “The events will start around 2:30 with throwing events starting first.”

In the future, Driver said they plan on hosting many track meets.

“We wish we could have several meets this year,” Driver said. “We weren’t able to this year, but next year we hope to a have a full schedule of meets. It’s going to be a lot of fun for people to come out and watch. We are hoping for a good crowd.”

Straughn head coach John Evers said he is excited about the addition of the track facility.

“This is going to be great,” Evers said. “This is going to benefit eight teams because all four county schools have track and cross-country teams. That’s around 200 or more student athletes that this will benefit. We have football fields, basketball gyms, baseball and softball diamonds, and these kids deserve somewhere that they can practice also.”

Evers said he hopes everyone comes out on Saturday to enjoy the meet.

“We are very excited about Saturday’s meet,” Evers said. “I hope everyone comes out to see the facility. This is great for these student athletes. I’m glad that Mr. Driver and the board had the vision and were able to see this through. We are very exciting.”

Red Level track and field coach Tony Ingram expressed the importance of the kids finally having a facility that they can use for practice.

“I can’t even put into words what the difference is from practicing in the football field and parking lot and coming out here to something even half this nice,” Ingram said. “I’ve been to tracks from Cullman to Gulf Shores and this is the nicest facility that I’ve been to. Everything is laid out perfect. You walk in up top and you can see every event. When we go to state in Cullman, the javelin event is as far from here to Gitty-Up-N-Go up there. I can’t even see them.”

Having the facility is something that Ingram said will help every school in the Covington County School system.

“We go down to the football field, I have a wheel that I can measure off the stuff, but it’s not like running here,” Ingram said. “For the kids, it was like Christmas morning coming down here on the track. All your throwing is right here. I can sit here at practice and watch them all. I can’t put into words the difference it is practicing on this. We had three hurdles and one of them is broken. We space them out on the football field and they jump three hurdles. My leading hurdler, who has won the hurdle every week at T.R. Miller now, you put that kid on track practicing and he is going to really improve. He got an unofficial visit to Alabama on Spring Break. I was talking to the coach and giving him his times. He said, ‘Well that’s impressive,’ but then we got to talking about practicing and I told him that we only have three hurdles on a football field. He said, ‘Well that that’s really impressive.’ Now we can lay it out he can run his actual event. Before, the only time he ran his event was when we went to the meet. It’s the same with long jumping and some of the other events.”

Ingram said the track program at Red Level, and around Covington County, has really begun to grow.

“This thing has really grown,” Ingram said. “When we first started the program, I think we had three kids on the team in 2014. It went from three to now I’ve got 40. It’s growing every year and this right here is going to make a huge difference. We are doing every meet in a track event except for pole vaulting and that is coming.”

Hosting an event for the first time can be tricky, Ingram said.

“It’s mainly county schools this weekend, but I think we invited Opp and T.R. Miller,” Ingram said. “Coach Atkinson does a great job at T.R. Miller and we are going to kind of shadow his people. It’s kind of like a dress rehearsal for the next event.”