Mountain View track reconstruction underway

Track replacement at Mountain View reflects success of high school track and field

By Grant Lucas / The Bulletin / @Grant_Lucas88

Published May 13, 2014 at 12:01AM

GAME OF THE WEEK

Ridgeview twice squandered a two-run lead in Friday’s Intermountain Hybrid baseball win at Summit. But with the bases loaded in the top of the eighth inning, the Ravens’ Kahl Malott was hit by a pitch to force home the go-ahead run. In the bottom half, Summit’s Noah Yunker doubled to put the potential tying run in scoring position. But Ridgeview stranded Yunker to hold on for a 5-4 victory.

PLAYER OF THE WEEK

With her team trailing 10-9 to Redmond High on Friday in Intermountain Conference softball action, Mountain View’s Maddie Leighton came up big. Leighton belted a two-out, two-run single in the bottom of the seventh inning to cap Mountain View’s three-run rally and secure for the Cougars an 11-10 walk-off win.

STAT OF THE WEEK

Twenty-two. Last Tuesday’s High Desert Conference game belonged to Bend High — a 20-3 boys lacrosse win over Mountain View at 15th Street Field — but Chase Brennan made a quick statement for the Cougars. Shortly after the game’s onset, the Mountain View sophomore gave the Cougs the early edge by scoring a mere 22 seconds into the contest.

A truck leaves a spray of water in its wake as it creeps around the 400-meter dirt oval — all that is left of what used to be the track at Mountain View High School. Not far away, two bulldozers team up to attack the mounds of earth that have piled up in the southwest corner of the football field.

The warning beeps of trucks backing up and the thunderous maneuvering of heavy machinery fill the air at the northeast Bend campus as a construction crew works on a patch of land that now only faintly resembles the Mountain View football and track and field complex.

By the end of the summer, if all goes as planned, this project will be complete. Come late August, this will be one of the premier high school track facilities in Oregon. It will be Ashton Eaton Track at Jack Harris Stadium.

Thanks to a $96 million Bend-La Pine Schools bond measure that was passed last spring, Mountain View’s track went under the knife (backhoe, actually). In just a few months, the Cougars will boast a track surface similar to that of the University of Oregon’s Hayward Field. Soon, Mountain View will be home to Central Oregon’s second world-class track facility — the other located across town at Summit.

“You want things in your community. You want to be able to host big meets and significant things here,” says Mountain View athletic director Dave Hood. “When we were in the eight- or nine-team Intermountain Conference, everybody kind of took a turn to host (the district championships). And the community certainly liked that because it was kind of a shot in the arm for hotels and restaurants and whatnot. We haven’t had a chance to do that because the facility’s been kind of downgraded. … It’s definitely time.”

The original asphalt roadbed (and a second layer that was later placed on top of the first), which serves as the track’s foundation just below the ground’s surface, “failed,” according to Hood. Because no curbs were installed along with the base, the asphalt was able to flex and eventually crack, causing the surface to develop potentially dangerous anomalies — such as dips in the track.

Cosmetic repairs have been made over the years — minor touch-ups, really. But Mountain View went to the root of its track issue (literally), and now the program’s long wait for a more reliable facility is in the final countdown.

“We have not been able to host a major meet because the thing was in that bad of shape,” Hood says. “So we’re really excited that it’s going to get redone, and redone correctly.”

“I personally believe, and I know I was somewhat unique in this at the start, in the ‘If you build it, they will come’ philosophy,” says Summit track and field coach Dave Turnbull, a 1984 Mountain View graduate and former coach with the Cougars.. “I think if we look at these facilities as investments, not just costs, we’ll make better decisions and we’ll take care of them a little bit better. I think it’s awesome if Mountain View could host a big invitational. We’ll sure as heck sign up.”

Hood emphasizes that the track project is just one of many such upgrades taking place throughout the Bend-La Pine school district. At Mountain View alone, for example, a new floor is coming to the main gym, and the outdoor tennis courts will receive attention to their pitting and cracking surfaces.

But the centerpiece project today is the parcel of land just off 27th Street, land that currently is being overrun by bulldozers and backhoes. In a few months’ time, this will be the site of a track installed by Maryland-based Beynon Sports Surfaces, which in 2012 laid the new track at Oregon State and in preparation for the 2008 Olympic Trials resurfaced Hayward Field. (Hood says the new surface at Hayward is the best example of what is being installed at Mountain View.)

“It will be very, very nice, top-of-the-line running surface,” says Hood, who begins to chuckle with excitement. “I mean, it will be really, really nice. … My goal is that this thing will last for 25 years.”

Back in 2007, after sinkholes had virtually destroyed the athletic fields at Summit, the school’s track was replaced by a top-of-the-line Mondo surface — the same used at the 2008 and 2012 Olympic Games. When the school board approved the deal, it was made clear that the board’s intention would be to provide other high schools in the district with the same treatment.

Comparing the Beynon and Mondo surfaces, Hood says he considers Beynon “to be as good or better, without a doubt.”

Mountain View’s track surface will be similar to Summit’s in terms of its thickness. But, Hood notes, the Beynon at Mountain View will be a little more “forgiving” than the Mondo at Summit. There will be a larger area for the high jump than what used to exist at Mountain View, allowing extra room for jumpers with a longer approach.

While construction crews have taken to the Mountain View track, the Cougars’ track and field teams have been forced to practice elsewhere, mostly at nearby Sky View Middle School. Hood explains that construction began in April because springlike weather is optimal for the installation of the track.

“You look at the excitement on the kids’ and coaches’ faces about what could be and what will be,” Hood says, “and everybody has a can-do attitude.”

Bend High will experience a similar situation next spring, according to Bend High athletic director Craig Walker, when the Lava Bears’ track will undergo the same treatment.

While the bond is expected to account for dozens of upgrades and improvements around the district, projects such as the Mountain View reconstruction, Turnbull says, speak to the popularity of track and field in Central Oregon. The longtime Summit coach has always contended that Bend “is kind of a mini-Eugene” in the sense that Bend residents are knowledgeable about track and field.

“And I think when there’s knowledge here, the facilities demand improvements,” says Turnbull. “And the kids’ performances kind of support those improvements. I think it’s kind of just giving the kids what they need. I think the district understands that quality facilities encourage quality performances.

“We’ve been strong enough for long enough that it just supports having a good facility,” Turnbull continues. “I think every school deserves that. I have nothing negative to say about all of this. I think it’s fantastic, and it’s good for the sport.”

—Reporter: 541-383-0307; glucas@bendbulletin.com.