NITRO TRACK FACILITIES UPGRADED


Publication: CHARLESTON DAILY MAIL
Published: 04/03/1987
Page: P1B
Headline: NITRO TRACK FACILITIES UPGRADED
Byline: JODY JIVIDEN


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After watching the enormous amount of work done by Coach Rick
Comer on Nitro High School's track facilities at Underwood Field,
Jerry Dotson had an idea.
"I was saying the other day,' joked Dotson, who is Comer's
assistant coach, "that they ought to rename it Underwood & Comer
Field.'
Comer, of course, isn't holding his breath until the field is
renamed. Even if he wanted to, he couldn't. He's probably still
panting too hard from all the labor he has undertaken.
For the last three or four years, the Nitro Invitational was
conducted at Laidley Field. Then Comer went to work at Nitro.
"We wanted to have a facility where we could run a track meet
here,' Comer said. "We think it will help the program to be able
to run a meet in the community.
"With the facility we have now, we think we can make money on
a meet instead of just being a drain on the rest of the athletic
budget. Laidley Field's nice, but when you go there you have to pay
a fee and you don't get any of the concession money. So it's not
really a money-making proposition.'
The overhaul of Nitro's facilities began in the fall of 1985
when asphalt was laid on the cinder track. The newly-surfaced track
was lined last spring.
Comer points out that contributions from Nitro's Athletic
Boosters were invaluable to the track's renovation. "They financed
the whole thing,' Comer said, "and oversaw the construction.'
New landing pits were bought for the high jump and pole vault
. "We have as nice a pit for the high jump and pole vault
as Laidley Field does,' Comer said. A new fence was built around
the track and the football field.
The pole-vault area once was behind the bleachers. However, a
new field house is being built there, so the pole-vault runway and
pit were moved onto the football field behind one end zone.
A new take-off board was installed on the long-jump approach.
The long jump's landing area was boxed in to keep the sand from
spraying out of the pit after each leap.
Comer and Dotson laid a 10x10-foot cement pad for the discus and
a 9x9 pad for the shot put. Then they painted the foul circles on
the pads.
The Boosters also bought 55 new hurdles. That was the good news
. Here's the bad news: like lots of Christmas toys, hurdles aren't
assembled when they're delivered.
"Between the two of us,' Comer said, "we could put together
10 or 12 in an hour.'
But the toughest job was Comer's alone. He drilled the holes in
the track for the starting blocks. "I drilled about 102 holes,' he
said.
Comer drilled holes in the asphalt at the starting lines for
each of the different events. For example, the 100-meter dash, the
200 andl will bring 15 boys and 10 girls from the
Eastern Panhandle to the Nitro Invitational. Instead of renting
expensive hotel rooms Friday night, Martinsburg's athletes will stay
in the homes of Nitro's kids.
Comer and Dotson hope the snow stops Saturday and the sun shines
as bright as the track's new facilities.
But if the weather remains revolting, there's always a
consolation. "We'll just sell a lot of hot chocolate, I guess,'
Dotson said.
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"I have been working
all of March, just getting the track ready _ about every weekend and
after practice when I could,' Comer said.
Martinsburg High School will bring 15 boys and 10 girls from the
Eastern Panhandle to the Nitro Invitational. Instead of renting
expensive hotel rooms Friday night, Martinsburg's athletes will stay
in the homes of Nitro's kids.
Comer and Dotson hope the snow stops Saturday and the sun shines
as bright as the track's new facilities.
But if the weather remains revolting, there's always a
consolation. "We'll just sell a lot of hot chocolate, I guess,'
Dotson said.
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