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North High track reaches finish line

March 23, 2009|By ANDREW SCHOTZ

HAGERSTOWN -- Let the running begin.

After years of anticipation, North Hagerstown High School's spongy red track at Mike Callas Stadium has opened for students and the public.

Principal Valerie Novak said the school system officially took possession of the completed track a few weeks ago.

While the stadium's football field was completed in November 2006, track plans were in limbo for many additional months.

The school district and Craig Paving, a contractor, clashed over whether the paving company was given the right specifications for the track.

At issue was whether the track would have a slope that met standards for college-level track meets.

Novak said the college-level slope is part of the finished track.

"We waited a long time for the stadium," she said, "and an even longer time for the track."

Alumni and other track supporters showed up March 14, when the school's Environment Club sponsored a 5-kilometer run that finished on the track, Novak said.

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She said 98 people registered for the run, which was called "The Green Mile."

The opening of the track comes as welcome news to Mike Spinnler, part of a group of running enthusiasts who lobbied for a college-level standard for the track.

"It came out exactly to our vision and we couldn't be more pleased," Spinnler said.

Comparing the opening to the christening of a new boat, he said word is starting to get around.

Novak said there will be a dedication ceremony April 15 before North High's track team hosts South Hagerstown High School.

The track is open to the public from dawn to dusk.

Under a school system policy, groups have to apply and pay a fee to use the track, but school-related groups are exempt, Novak said.

The track must be open to the public because state Program Open Space money helped pay for the project, she said.

The Cumberland Valley Athletic Club and Washington County's Parks, Recreation and Facilities department are co-sponsoring a summer track meet series at the North High track, said Spinnler, the club's president.

He said the series will start May 26 and run through July.

Students can compete for free; adults will have to pay a fee.

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