New track at LHS benefits us all

There isn’t a better example of what creating, improving or even enhancing athletic facilities can do for a high school team than what Lafayette accomplished in track this season.

While the Lady Commodores have been close to winning an MHSAA Class 4A state title in track the last few seasons, they got over the hump this past Saturday, winning the school’s first overall title in track.

 
Just before the season, last summer to be exact, Lafayette put in new turf on the football field at William L. Buford Stadium.

 
There has always been room for a track, but it wasn’t installed in the prior renovation. That detail wasn’t missed this last go around and as a result, Lafayette’s girls were that much better for it.

 

The practices this past season were more consistent. Instead of running on grass, the runners were able to train on an actual hard surface, as good, or better, as any meet they ran in this spring.

 

After several years of being a runner-up, Amy Sutton was able to leave Lafayette as a champion in part because of the new track. It’s a wonderful way to go out and a wonderful, lasting memory for her and the rest of the Lady Commodores who traveled to Pearl and accomplished the feat. There was no hesitation on their part.

 

Their talent took over because they had trained, properly trained, for the various moments during the meet. It was a thing of beauty, one that I wish more from Lafayette County were able to witness in the end. Regardless, the benefit is unquestioned. Extra money raised, or bonded, made a difference. It made an impact on so many and impressed a state. Yes, a state full of people who now know that Lafayette is the best in track for 2014.

 

There were also upgrades made in track equipment this past year. The addition of the pole vault pit added between the softball field and field house was the big feature. Yes, that blue inclined area may have been popular play area with the young kids who attended the baseball games this year, but it meant the world to a vaulter like Ivan Lopez, who made it all the way to the state meet, scoring points for the Commodores that hadn’t been there in the past.

 

As much as Ben Mikell, the head coach of the Commodores, could teach Lopez about the pole vault, there is no substitute for having the proper equipment. It’s an event that needs to be repeated, over and over again, with a proper bar, at the proper height and into an area that won’t cause injury. It was the same way at Oxford High until the pit was added there. I think we can all agree that it worked out pretty well for Coach Scott Kendricks and his son, Sam, the reigning NCAA national champion. That addition will only continue to pay dividends down the road for LHS.

 

“We owe so much thanks to our administration. Patrick Robinson, our high school principal, with helping our kids when they missed school for meets. Coach Anthony Hart and Dr. Adam Pugh and our school board for getting our new track built. The track helped so much this season with practice,” Mikell said.

New field coming
There is another facility upgrade looming on the horizon locally, one that will benefit many kids in the process. Oxford’s Bobby Holcomb Field will be fitted for turf as will the indoor batting practice facility and the commons area at Bramlett Elementary.

 

The football team may be the main tenants, but the field turf will only help the entire school. Soccer is going to benefit – and I already know both varsity coaches welcome the addition. It’s a surface that doesn’t need maintenance, not like an all-grass field does. Ever wonder what Johnny Hill is doing during the day in the fall? He’s been sitting on a tractor, spreading fertilizer in the effort to keep the field maintained.

That won’t happen again, not with the addition of the new field. It’s the perfect complement to a new state-of-the-art high school and the best part is, a large portion of the money needed to fund the project has been donated. It’s a win-win for everyone.

Oxford’s athletic prowess, across the board, has been the tops in the state for over a decade now. The All-Sports awards back that claim up. But the Chargers and Lady Chargers haven’t always had the best facilities. Not bad or subpar mind you, just not the best, not in relation to the amount of titles these two programs win.

 

Now, with the new fields and tennis court expansion at John Leslie, the state’s most consistent sports programs gets an even bigger boost to help. That’s also a good thing to know. A plus for us all and yet another thing to be proud for in the future.

John Davis is the Oxford Citizen sports editor. He can be reached at john.davis@journalinc.com. Follow him on Twitter at @oxfordcitizenjd.



About John Davis

Eighteen years in the business. Dedicated to providing the best local content for sports. Oxford, Lafayette, Ole Miss, youth sports, outdoors and the things nobody else wants to cover.