Bulldogs adjusting to change
Anyone wanting to watch the Baldwin High School track teams practice or compete at their home meet will have to travel to nearby Wellsville.
The construction at Baker University's Liston Stadium has forced BHS to find a new home this season. The Bulldogs travel to Wellsville nearly twice a week to practice.
"I was kind of wondering how things were going to work out," BHS boys' track coach Mike Spielman said. "It's worked out really well. It's something different, so that's nice because you are not in the routine of jogging down to the track everyday. It hasn't worked out too bad right now."
At Monday's Board of Education meeting, Supt. James White said Wellsville has been very kind to work with.
"It seems to be going as well as can be expected this track season," White season. "Wellsville has been great to work with."
One major change for the track teams is going to be the location of the Baldwin Invitational. The meet will take place March 31 in Wellsville.
"That's another one of those weird things, but they (Wellsville) have been nice about it," Spielman said of having a home meet in Wellsville. "It will be a great facility to have it at. Still the BIT is not at Baldwin this year."
Wellsville is not charging Baldwin anything for using their facilities, but the Eagles' booster club will be running the concession stand at the BIT.
Baker is currently in the final phase of its reconstruction at Liston Stadium. This phase includes a new turf for the football field and an eight-lane track.
The lack of facilities has forced the Baker, BHS and Baldwin Junior High School track teams to find other practice locations.
The Baker track teams travel to MidAmerica Nazarene University to practice, while the BJHS teams stay on the BHS/BJHS campus for practice.
Wellsville High School has allowed BHS to practice at its facility for the season.
"Wellsville has been very hospitable, as far as opening up their entire track and facilities to us," BHS girls' track coach Ted Zuzzio said. "We couldn't ask for any more kindness out of them."
Spielman agreed about Wellsville's assistance and added the BHS track programs have benefited from this season.
"Wellsville has just gone out of their way for us," Spielman said. "It's been unbelievable how nice they have been. Another good benefit from it is we have got some permanent facilities at the high school now."
The track teams now have a long jump and triple jump runway to practice on north of BHS, near the soccer field. The Bulldogs now also have shot put and discus rings near the BHS tennis courts. The practice football fields have become the javelin practice area.
Spielman said he was glad to have these facilities to use, but he also said high jump has suffered this year.
"The high jump is probably hurting the most because we just have a pit inside," Spielman said. "We didn't do field events every single day. It's worked out, but it's just taken a little bit of scheduling to figure out who is doing what."
The Bulldogs began their season on March 1 and began traveling to Wellsville soon after. They now go there every Monday and Wednesday, and will even make a trip there today.
Spielman said the first couple of trips to Wellsville were strange.
"The first couple times we were trying not to get in anybody's way and just feel our way around," Spielman said. "We were guests. They (Wellsville) have been super receptive to us."
Zuzzio agreed about the odd feeling at first.
"It's a little bit weird, though, as far as we are used to being on a track and doing certain things," Zuzzio said. "We sort of widen ourselves out around the track with different events. It's a little different."
The two high schools are able to each practice without problems, because the Eagles leave school earlier and begin practice sooner than BHS. That makes it possible for each school to practice without having to worry about the other one.
Despite the different practice schedules, Spielman and Zuzzio agree there are pros and cons to practicing at Wellsville.
"The benefits are that we get to run on a track," Zuzzio said. "Our hurdlers and pole vaulters get to practice with the real thing. It's an actual setting for track, other than the football field and country roads."
Spielman said there are several benefits, which include team bonding.
"The pros are it's something different for the kids," Spielman said. "The thing I kind of like is that we all go home at the same time. Everybody gets to hang out on the bus after practice. When we stay here, we get done earlier. One big pro is we have gotten some facilities here."
He went on to say the negatives are mostly centered around transportation to and from Wellsville.
"One of the cons is the transportation, because I know it's work for the transportation department to bus us over there all of the time," Spielman said. "Also you don't have a place where you can host your meets."
The negatives for Zuzzio dealt with the inability to have a facility as a Class 4A school, along with transportation.
"It's not a good situation when you don't have your own facility," Zuzzio said. "We only have so much time to get things done and we have a 20-minute ride over and a 20-minute ride back. That cuts into your total practice plan."
Zuzzio said he believes the time for Baldwin to have its own facility is now.
"There are over 100 kids out at the junior high and around 70 here at the high school," Zuzzio said. "That's a lot of interest. The need here is for our own facility and it's time.
"We don't have anything to call our own," Zuzzio said. "I think it's time we have our own facility. It's definitely time, so we don't have to beg, borrow or use someone else's."
Monday, White said the district is working on getting its own track facility. He said they will be taking bids for the cost to place a track around the BHS soccer field.
"We are definitely working toward something in the future," White said. "We have a need at bare minimum for a practice facility for junior high and high school students. The track at Baker just gets so crowded at this time of the year."
Spielman said he will be very happy when the track is finished, because it will be a great facility to use. Until then, he said he is content with having one strange year of track.
"We are more than happy this year to take one year of having some inconvenience for the ends to justify the means," Spielman said. "We will have a great facility to use for everybody."