PALMYRA, Mo. – The installation of the new running track at Palmyra High School isn’t finished yet, but girls track coach Nick Koetters is still fielding text messages from his runners about its availability.
"They’re already asking how soon can they use it," Koetters said.
That’s the buzz the new track along with the new turf for the football team’s practice field has created this summer. Construction started in early June after the school district gained approval for a bond in April.
The turf football field along with new goal posts are finished. The track will be finished in the coming weeks. The football team still plans to play its games at the Palmyra Middle School field.
"Oh, my God, it’s phenomenal," Palmyra football coach Kevin Miles said. "All the different colors of green and the P at midfield. It’s just really cool."
The turf is welcomed as a replacement for the grass field the football team practices on during the season. However, the field usually turns into a dirt field through wear and tear midway through the season. That made practice conditions less than ideal, and any rainfall made the field muddy and unusable.
A turf practice field solves those problems.
"Rainy practices are no longer an issue," Miles said. "We couldn’t go out there if there was mud and we were usually stuck in a gym somewhere. This makes it a lot more accommodating."
The track team now gets a much better facility to use. Prior to the renovations, the track team ran on the track around the football field, but it was made of rocks and didn’t provide a level surface.
Koetters feared that kind of surface may have caused injuries in the past.
"We had runners get some shin splits and things like that," Koetters said. "I’m not sure if that was a direct cause or not, but it just wasn’t very good."
There’s no fears about bad surfaces anymore. Koetters says an argument can be made that having an actual track surface to practice on could lead to better times. In the past, athletes that competed in hurdles events never got to practice them how they would on an actual track.
"It’ll be awesome for us," Koetters said. "We’ve always been practicing on rocks. I think it’ll make a difference for times and performances."
Both coaches agree that the new facilities could result in higher roster numbers.
"Definitely," Koetters said. "Hopefully it can get more kids out."