Cyclones break ground on new LaPorte Track

Published 9:10 am Friday, April 22, 2016

NW0422 groundbreaking

The Elizabethton Cyclones track teams may begin to have home meets as soon as the fall school year, thanks in part to a contribution by the Citizens Bank Tri-Cities Foundation and the LaPorte Foundation. They, and the Elizabethton City Schools are splitting the cost of a $434,000 project to resurface the old asphalt paved track.

The ground breaking took place Thursday afternoon with representatives from the foundation, the school, the track team and the contractor.

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“Citizens Bank and the LaPorte family have a long history of investing in our youth and the community,” Joe LaPorte, Chairman and CEO for Citizens Bank said in a Press release. “The new resurfaced track is another example of that commitment. We are honored that the facility will carry the name LaPorte Track, but even more proud of the fact that this project allows a new generation of student athletes to learn the lifelong values of leadership, teamwork and perseverance on a new first-rate track surface, which the entire community will enjoy.”

Beynon Corporation and Summers Taylror will complete the crack repairs and asphalt resurfacing and rubberizing. Beynon is also the designer of the new track being built the University of Tennessee at Knoxville.

“Not only will this track provide a safe surface for running, but we are alsoimproving the high jump and long jump area to include more space with a larger runup area,” said Seth Sheridan, Beynon Sales Manager for Tennessee.

Sam LaPorte, a member of the Foundation, said the paving should begin within a week.

“The major benefits of this project are being able to have home meets and higher quality training,” said one of two head coaches, Amber Abel. “Right now, we have to reduce some of our workouts, but with the new track we will have a safe surface for hurdles and more extensive training. This track gives us a sense of pride.”

Track star Heather Feuchtenberger, who broke the school’s 400 meter record and tied the record time for the 800 meter race, said the track not only brings the school and team pride, but it gives the community the opportunity to support its runners.

“It stinks to not be able to have home meets because they allow friends and peers to come out and support us,” Feuchtenberger said. “It would also bring money into our program by being able to sell things like T-shirts and other memorabilia.”

When the project was approved by the Elizabethton Board of Education in February, Gardenhour said there had been no at-home track meets in years.

Feuchtenberger said they practice on the EHS track, but the only local meet they have takes place at Science Hill High School.

While that isn’t too far of a drive, she and another runner, Julia Schubert, said the track really isn’t a safe place to practice.

“The importance is not so much that we’re getting a home track, but that it will be a good track,” Feuchtenberger said. “I’ve had three stress fractures because of this track.”

Schubert said she and other runners also get shin splints running on the currently paved surface. The new track will be a rubberized surface with a remodeled high jump and long jump area.

“We’re very excited and grateful to the donors,” said Schubert.

Head Coach Leslee Bradley said the Betsy Cyclones track teams include 40 runners, and they’re in it to win it. The girls team has won district conference for the last six consecutive years, Bradley said, including their win Thursday night. Not only that, they have state qualifiers on boys and girls teams and Feuchtenberber running on a record-breaking streak.

Board of Education Chair Rita Booher said the track will not only benefit the runners, but the community as a whole.
“I want to thank the LaPorte family,” she said. “Your belief in our students is unparalleled. This will give everyone a really nice place to walk, and it shows how important you are to this community.”