Thursday, November 8, 2007

No track means students are forced to run elsewhere

Come spring, the Marist track team won't be found competing on campus. Although it is a school with a Division I athletic program, Marist College has no track. According to Peter Colaizzo, a Marist runner in the 80's and 17-year coach of the men's cross country and track teams, there has never been a track on campus.
With the completion of Tenney Stadium at Leonidoff Field, this hasn't changed.
"A 6- or 8-lane track takes up a lot of space. Putting a track around Leonidoff Field would have required moving or removing campus access roads and would have greatly disrupted landscaping in the area. Simply put, it was not possible," said Colaizzo.
According to Athletic Director Tim Murray, a track is in the master plan for the campus that was recently completed; however he is unsure when this will be carried out.
"I think they are locating it on the North Field. It is something that we are aware of and we understand that there is a need for it," said Murray. "We definitely want to do that for our student athletes and our community."
Murray said cost and location are the main factors in the decision of whether or not to build a track.
"Tracks aren't overly expensive, but it still would be a fairly significant capital expenditure," said Murray.
During cross country and indoor track seasons, the lack of a track does not pose any inconvenience to the men's and women's teams. During cross country season, the teams use local parks and trails, as well as North Field to train, Colaizzo said. During indoor track season, the indoor track in the McCann Center fieldhouse is used.
Come outdoor track season, however, Colaizzo said, "it is challenging to schedule off-campus practices, but we make it work the best way we can."
As far as performance, Colaizzo said the team is not affected.
"I have a simple message to recruits that are looking at Marist: No track, no problem. We have fielded competitive teams for years without an outdoor track facility. While we would certainly love to have a track facility on campus, it is not productive to whine about what we do not have."
Some members of the track teams disagree with this. Sophomore Justine Colabraro said it is especially hard for athletes participating in field events because the only place they can practice is in the gym.
"We only get to pole vault when the basketball team isn't there," Colabraro said. "We have to work around their schedule."
On top of scheduling issues, Colabraro said not having the proper equipment forces her to go to meets not having practiced her events and feeling unprepared.
Sophomore Greg Masto said Spackenkill High School and Arlington High School, where the teams practice, are 20 to 30 minute trips. With a track on campus the athletes wouldn't have to rush their workouts in order to get to a class on time, Masto said.
Conor Shelley, a sophomore long-distance runner, said the distance program is very strong because it has proper facilities to practice on, such as hills and parks.
"If the sprinters and throwers and jumpers had better facilities they would have better sprints, throws and jumps-and better recruits," Shelley said.
"From a recruiting stand point, not having a track makes it look like your school might not have the money or that the school doesn't care about the team," Masto said.
Colabraro said having a track on campus would give the teams a little more recognition.
"It's sad-some people at our school don't think we have a track team because we don't have a track."

Originally appeared 11/8/2007 in The Circle

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