Off and running

MARSHALL – It started with a partnership, but it’s ready to become a lot more. Officials and athletes from both Marshall Public Schools and Southwest Minnesota State University gathered at the site of the former Mattke Field athletic stadium on Monday afternoon to break ground for a new regional track and field complex.

“This is a good day,” said Marshall School Board Chairman Jeff Chapman, summing up the mood at the ceremony.

Once it’s finished, the Marshall Regional Track and Field Complex will be a positive addition not just to the Marshall community, but to the region, speakers said.

“This facility will be like no other in southwest Minnesota, and it will be one we can all be proud of,” said Marshall Mayor Bob Byrnes.

The track and field project is a joint effort that’s been in the planning stages since 2011, said SMSU Athletic Director Chris Hmielewski. That’s when Marshall Superintendent Klint Willert had brought forward the idea of a joint track and field facility as a possible alternative to renovating the old track at Marshall Middle School.

From there, a joint supervisory committee took on the planning work. The student body of SMSU even had their say, passing a referendum in favor of the synthetic turf that will go in the infield of the track.

“This project was put together by many, many people,” said SMSU President Connie Gores. Once it’s completed, the new track and field complex will host both high school and university athletic events. “It will truly enhance the educational experience of our students,” Gores said, as well as bringing track and field back to SMSU and helping the university become Title IX compliant.

“I would just like to say how excited we are to have this project under way,” said Rachael Posusta, an SMSU student and treasurer of the Student Senate.

The project with breathe some new life into the northeast corner of the SMSU campus, which used to be the site of the university’s main stadium.

The Marshall Regional Track and Field Complex will include a nine-lane, double bend, 400-meter track, as well as a water jump pit and hurdle for the steeplechase, and a high jump area.

The infield of the track will include an NCAA regulation, synthetic turf soccer/football field.

North of the stadium, there will be track and field facilities for the long jump, pole vault, shotput, discus and javelin.