McCOMB – (AP) McComb School District officials predict the renovated track at C.C. Moore Stadium will rival any in the state.
Work on the $750,000 project began in October and is expected to be completed by mid-February. The renovation is being done by JBHM Architects of Jackson. The improved track will have eight running lanes.
“They’ve got the curves in and (contractors are) doing the rewiring now,” MHS athletic director Jonathan McClendon said. “They’ll put the new surface down, then put the asphalt down by the end of next week. After that, they will start putting down the rubberized surface.”
McClendon said all above ground wiring will be placed below ground so light poles will no longer be necessary.
Field events will no longer be staged at other locations but will be built into the track. That includes pits for long jump, triple jump and pole vault.
“That track will be comparable to where we run in Pearl and Long Beach,” McClendon said. “It will be one of the top 5A tracks in Mississippi.”
Track and field coach Mark Lang said the improved facility is a welcomed addition. The track teams have not used the local track for meets or practice for the last four years because of its poor condition.
Lang has worked out at Southwest Mississippi Community College.
“I’ve been checking on (the work) daily. One day she came out to look at it, (Superintendent) Therese Palmertree said I looked like an expectant father because I was in and out, in and out so much.
“We’ve been at a disadvantage even through we’ve won state four times since 1998,” Lang said.
McComb has won three girls’ championships and one boys’ track title.
The last girls’ track championship was in 2007. That team was anchored by current University of Florida star Brittany Harrell.
MHS won the 1998 boys’ championship.
Lang has coached track since 1982. He took over the program in 1997.
“It’s going to be a real nice place to practice. We haven’t been able to compete with 5A powerhouses like Pearl and Oxford. They’ve got everything you could presumably ask for as far as facilities go.
“This will level the playing field, so to speak.” Lang said.
Lang said he remembers working on the track to get it ready for the district meet.
“We ran district here five years ago. I was patching the track to try and keep it up, but it went down too far too fast,” Lang said. “It was down to just asphalt in no time. The only pits I had for the last 15 years were for long and triple jump. I didn’t have a pole vault pit.”
Lang said he and the school board came to a meeting of the minds last spring.
“I told them I was tired of having to go to Southwest to practice. That was a hassle. I had to get a bus request every day I went,” Lang said. “That was a lot of work on me.”
Lang said everyone involved in the project seems happy it is about to happen.
“The school board and central office have been real excited about this project as well,” Lang said. “We used to have some big meets here.”
The Camellia City Relays once attracted teams from across the state and Louisiana. Because of the poor condition of the track, SMCC hosted Camellia City once and Sumner High School in Kentwood, La., hosted the event twice. The relays were not run last season.
Lang said he has not set a date for the 2013 Camellia City Relays. The outdoor track season begins Feb. 1.
“Southwest has been real good to us,” Lang said. “The SMCC board agreed to sell us all their track materials, including hurdles, blocks and timing system.”