Willcox track coach Craig Hamilton figures the last time the school hosted a track and field meet was 2001.
“It’s in disrepair,” Hamilton said of a track that has holes in it. “There’s been a lack of money and funds. They put money into buildings and other things. Track has gone by the wayside.”
In his second year, building a team that went from nine total members (boys and girls combined) to 25 this season, Hamilton is making headway into building a track on which his athletes can compete, thanks to help from a local business. The track is not usable. But Hamilton was able to get help this week, putting in a jump pit.
Willcox athletes helped build a sand pit for jumps on Friday with sand donated by Willcox Rock and Sand.
This is heaven for junior jumpers Elijah Sheppard and Kristi Webster.
“It’s nice to have a brand new pit,” said Sheppard, who has qualified for the Division IV state championships in the triple jump at 39 feet, 1 inch. “It’s something to actually have motivation to jump. We were jumping on dirt. It was all rugged, hard, and it hurt to land on.”
Webster said she stopped practicing the long jump because of potential for injuries.
“We didn’t know where the end of the track was,” she said. “We were jumping from a line not close to the end. It was getting us hurt.”
Webster, without practice, has only jumped in three meets. In her first long jump, she went 14-8 1/2, which is a provisional qualifier for state. Now with practice she hopes to soon be an automatic qualifier.
“Hopefully, I’ll move up a few places now that we have a pit to practice in,” she said.
Hamilton had six of his nine athletes last year qualify for state. This year, he already has 14 qualified.
With more assistance, the goal is to some day run on a suitable track and host meets.
Suggest human-interest stories to Richard Obert at richard.obert@arizonarepublic or 602-316-8827. Follow him on Twitter at azc_obert