Borough workers smooth out a new gravel track, April 27. Photo/Brad Taylor

Borough workers smooth out a new gravel track, April 27. Photo/Brad Taylor

Petersburg School District’s track has been expanded through local donations. The construction happened Monday but the project has been years in the making.

The way Petersburg High School track athletes run in practice and how they run in meets is different. The runners’ home track, up until recently anyway, was 200 meters long, half the size of a standard track. It was also shaped like a circle instead of an oval.

Brad Taylor has been the track coach for 33 years. He says it set them apart in the region.

“We’re the only team that doesn’t have a track to use to practice on,” Taylor says.

For years, it was a dream to get a new track but it never panned out.

“We were trying to get this to happen and then it looked like we were going to get some funding to try to make this thing happen but the funding actually fell through because it was a change in the footprint of what we were doing,” Taylor says. “So, this grant was more for equipment than a change in the footprint. So then we started looking at what was going on and there was a few thousand dollars that was in the budget for this Field of Dreams but it was going to be a huge, huge expense to get this thing done.”

Instead of waiting more years, Taylor used that seed money to raise enough for a downsized track improvement.

With over $5,000 dollars in private donations, they purchased a bunch of gravel at a discount from Reids Brothers Construction. The borough’s public works department donated the labor, which took just one day. With the new gravel and heavy machinery the track was elongated to 260 meters and it was shaped into more of an oval.

“The important thing was we got some straight aways for the kids. We had about 50-55 meters of straight aways which will really help our athletes,” Taylor says. “We’ve been developing just a few problems in running those tight circles for the whole practice.”

They also filled in a muskeg area with gravel where discuses are thrown.

The runners were able to use the track after school on the same day it was elongated.

Taylor says the Petersburg track team has seen years of success with half of a track. Last year, the girls’ team took fifth place at state. One runner, Isabelle Ith was a state champion in two events. But he says it will be nice to see what they can do with something closer to the real thing.

“You know, I’ve been doing this for 33 years and I scratched the first circle out there and we finally got a little bit of steam rolling and now it’s done,” Taylor says, “qnd so, it’s really nice. It’s really nice for our kids to have a little bit more.”

Both the High School and Middle School track teams are headed to Ketchikan this weekend for a meet there.