New Bellefonte track will enhance program and community
By CHRIS MORELLI
BELLEFONTE — In less than two weeks, Bellefonte’s Rogers Stadium will be the site of high school football and soccer games.
That’s nothing new. In the past, the stadium has played host to countless games.
What it hasn’t hosted in quite some time is a track and field meet. In the spring, that will all change.
The recent renovations to Rogers Stadium include an all-weather track. So, when the 2019-20 track and field season rolls around, the Red Raiders will have home meets for the first time in a very long time.
Last week, track and field head coach Seth Miller checked out the track and field for the first time.
“It’s definitely exciting, it’s a long time coming,” Miller said. “This is something that our track and field program has been in need of and it will help the program.”
2019 will mark Miller’s 10th season as head coach of the track and field program. He’s been involved much longer than that, however. He’s thrilled to see his student-athletes get a track of their own.
“I talked to the school board several times,” Miller said. “I said, ‘give our kids an opportunity.’ It’s finally here. Compliments to the school board for stepping up and getting this done. It’s great.”
The all-weather track surface will be used not only for track and field, but for community events as well. Although nothing is etched in stone, other area tracks host the Relay for Life, fundraisers and the like.
“I think the school board has been pretty open with that. They want to see it used for community events as well. I’m in full support of that. The more exposure we get, the better it is for our district and our community,” Miller said.
Bellefonte Area School District Superintendent Dr. Michelle Saylor said that she’s excited to see the reaction of the track and field athletes when they see the completed track for the first time.
“That just gives me goosebumps,” Saylor said. “The first track meet, I’m sure there will be a lot of us in tears. We’ve had a lot of amazing (track and field) athletes and they’ve done it without this. I can’t wait to see what they do now that they have the resources. From my heart, that’s the best part of this project.”
In addition to the all-weather track, there are the obligatory high jump, long jump, pole vault, shotput and javelin areas at the new and improved Rogers Stadium.
School board vice-president Bob Lumley-Sapanski said that track and field has always been near and dear to his heart.
“I’m so committed to track and field. You’re tall, you’re short, you’re skinny, you’re not so skinny … any kid can participate. This is great,” Lumley-Sapanski said.
As he toured the new track — unlined as of Thursday — he was wowed with what he saw.
“I’m really impressed. The track is beautiful,” he said. “I hope the community comes out to support them.”
According to Lumley-Sapanski, the track holds extra meaning because it honors the memories of Jeremy Herbstritt and Jonas Panik. Herbstritt was killed in the 2007 Virginia Tech massacre and Panik was killed during the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11. Both Herbstritt and Panik were part of the Bellefonte track and field community.
“To finally be able to do this, it’s really a big relief to be able to honor those people,” he said. “We can say, ‘look, we finally did this.'”
The track and field team will have a chance to check out their new digs at “Light Up The Field,” which takes place this week through Wednesday. The event will feature live music, food and other family-friendly activities.
“This will be a celebration,” Lumley-Sapanski said.