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Push being made for new track at Casa Grande

Casa Grande's current track cracks in hot weather and turns to goo in the rain.

JOHN JACKSON/ARGUS-COURIER STAFF
Published: Friday, March 8, 2013 at 10:34 a.m.
Last Modified: Friday, March 8, 2013 at 10:34 a.m.

Dreams are not cheap.

The price tag for the Casa Grande High school track athletes' dream of a track of their own is somewhere in the neighborhood of $800,000.

For Carl Triola, who has had that dream for the 14 years he has been involved in Casa track, it is a reachable goal.

“We're excited,” he said. “This is he closest we've been since I've been here. There is hope.”

The need is obvious. Casa Grande is one of only two schools in either the North Bay League or the Sonoma County League without a synthetic track. The other school, Ukiah, has a new track in the planning stage.

The current Casa Grande track is made of some sort of not-remembered cinder that looks sprinkled over an adobe base that turns to goo in rain and cracks in sun.

“We haven't been able to have a high school meet here in eight years,” Triola points out. “The only meet we have here is the Eastside Relays for elementary schools.”

Casa Grande's 100-plus track members work out on the track, but there is no real way to set up the hurdles properly. The hurdles themselves tilt on the uneven track and there are so many marks on the curb surrounding the track, that there is no way to properly align the barriers.

Last year, Adam Lundquist broke the school record in both the high and intermediate hurdles and never practiced on his home track. He would condition and work out at Casa Grande with his teammates and then trek across town to use Petaluma High School's all-weather track for his hurdle work.

It is difficult to impossible to even practice some field events at Casa Grande. Even a modest amount of rain can turn the high jump and pole vault areas into mini-lakes.

Triola points out, despite its problems, the track attracts many people in the community, from moms to firefighters who use it for conditioning, and would be even more used if it were in decent shape. With Triola, current Casa Grande track coach Jamie Pugh, Tami Gholson, Nicole Cubba and Doug Bradley as a core group, much has already been done to get the track renovation process started.

Triola says the group has already raised about $100,000, getting major donations from the Casa Grande Booster's Club and the Petaluma Foot Race.

He added that the project has the approval of the Petaluma City Schools District and preliminary plans have already been drawn up.

However, he acknowledges there is still a long way to go.

One of the fund-raising ideas the group has in mind is naming rights for what will essentially be a new facility. “We're definitely looking at naming rights,” Triola says, adding the group already has school board approval to seek a sponsor for the track.

“It would be great if we could find a business or a group that would like to buy the naming rights,” he says.

On a more modest scale, but a project the group hopes will bring in quite a bit of money is the sale of what Triola calls “pavers” — blocks that would contain names from families and individuals and others that would be placed alongside the track.

Triola says the plans call for a first-class track facility, but one that would keep the footprint of the current track surrounding the football field.

“We don't want a passable track. We want a first-class track. We want something nice that the whole community will use and can be proud of,” he says. “The benefit to the community will be incredible.”

He says the biggest expense is redoing the drainage, and plans for that major part of the project are already underway.

“I think it is doable,” he says. “I have confidence in the Petaluma community. The kids want a track, and the community deserves a track.”

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