February 19, 2016 10:45AM
It’s not an easy thing for a program with so much pride and a history as rich as Pittsburg State University’s Track and Field to give up competing at home, but that’s just what Head Coach Russ Jewett agreed to when plans were first presented to remodel John Lance Arena. Now, that patience is paying off big time.
Jewett knew that remodeling John Lance Arena would mean the permanent loss of the indoor track in the arena and that even when that project was finished, it would take time to complete the fundraising and construction of a new indoor facility. It was a gamble he was willing to take.
As PSU hosts a series of big indoor meets, including next weekend’s MIAA championships and the NCAA Division II Indoor Track and Field Championships on March 11-12, it’s clear that gamble is paying off.
“We went three years without an indoor track at all,” Jewett said recently, “but it was definitely worth the sacrifice. We now have facilities second to none.”
The new 154,000-square-foot Robert W. Plaster Center opened last April. Although the opening came too late for that season of indoor track and field, it was clear that this would be one of the premier track and field facilities in the U.S.
Surrounding the Plaster Center’s 100-yard artificial turf field, is the 300-meter Harvey Dean track with seating and a concourse area big enough to accommodate 1,500 spectators. At the east end of the building is the 16x29 foot HD Crown Automotive Video Board and an 80,000-watt sound system with six arrays that total more than 50 speakers ensures the sound and video quality in the facility is second to none.
PSU’s track and field team christened the new Plaster Center with the Boo Rogers combined events last December. This spring, the Plaster Center has been the site for a succession of competitions that have drawn thousands of high school and college athletes from across the country. The Pitt State Invitational alone drew more than 50 teams and more than 1,200 athletes.
“The community and the Crawford County Convention and Visitors Bureau is excited about hosting competitors and visitors from across the U.S.” said Devin Gorman, vice president of operations for the Pittsburg Area Chamber of Commerce. “It is the perfect opportunity to showcase our community, along with our first class facilities and amenities.”
Jewett said it definitely feels good to be back on home turf and to host in one of the best indoor track and field facilities in the country.
“It’s great to be able to host high-caliber competitions right here at home,” Jewett said. “It’s great for our student-athletes, for Pittsburg State, and for the community.”