As the sun dropped out of the sky Friday evening, community members, alumni, Olathe Middle/High School staff and Montrose County School District personnel arrived at the new Wilson Field for a ribbon-cutting ceremony.

After going through a COVID-19 temperature screening, visitors wandered throughout the facility, looking at the upgraded resources for students and community members.

The evening began with the raising of the American flag and the Pledge of Allegiance, presented by the American Legion Post 24. The legion donated the flagpole on the north end of the stadium.

OMHS Athletic Director Joe Archuleta welcomed everyone to the new Wilson Field, officially opening the facility.

Archuleta recognized people, some who were present on the field, for their roles in supporting the new facility.

Director of Property Service Phillip Bailey was one of those who was recognized.

“Mr. Bailey’s attention to detail is second to none,” Archuleta said. “He kept this project on schedule and was here every minute, just about every day at one point or another to make sure this project was on track.”

Ryan Corn, football coach and track coach, thanked the community for coming out in support of the new facility. Reflecting on what the facility looked like when he arrived at Olathe and started coaching football 17 years ago, Corn is excited for what the future holds.

“Honestly, when I first got here, the track itself, let’s be honest, it almost looked like a practice field,” Corn said. “Now, you look at this facility and I talked to a ton of coaches, especially on the Western Slope, and I tell them right away, plain and simple, we have the nicest facility outside of Stocker (Stadium) for high schools in Colorado.”

Jerry Hollingshead, head girls track coach for the past 19 years also shared his memories of the old track and the transformation.

“I’ve been dragging this track with a tractor for the last 19 years and I can’t even say how excited I am about this,” he said. “Being associated with a track like this is a great honor for me. This is something that has been coming for a long time and I’m just proud to be a part of this whole program.”

Although Hollingshead is retiring from teaching at the end of the school year, he hopes to stay involved with the track and wrestling programs for years to come.

Prior to the ribbon-cutting, Archuleta acknowledged the sponsors who supported the school’s efforts to complete the project. They received a certificate and an Olathe Pirates T-shirt.

“2020 has been very challenging for our district, kids, family and community and without hesitation, these supporters here behind me came through without hesitation with outstanding donations, showing that people are the heart of the project,” Archuleta said.

School board member Jeff Bachman attended Friday’s ceremony and described Wilson Field as amazing.

“As a school board member, it was amazing to be a part of it,” he said. “As a community member, it’s just amazing to know that our community is going to be able to come up and enjoy it.”

Bachman recalled how he would run on the dirt track and when the sprinklers turned on, the water would turn the dirt to mud. He also remembered the stands becoming covered in dirt.

“My daughter graduated two years ago and I remember 20 minutes after the ceremony concluded, the wind kicked up and the dirt covered the bleachers and you couldn’t even see them,” he said. “I sent a picture to our superintendent Steve (Schiell) and said, ‘This is why we need a track.’”

That’s when the project started to move forward.

During closing remarks, OMHS Principal Scot Brown expressed his gratitude for the community coming out for the ribbon cutting ceremony, the donors and also one person who had not yet been recognized for his involvement with the project — Joe Archuleta.

“Mr. Archuleta has been instrumental throughout this entire process. He knows athletics, he knows what this place needs and all the questions, I’ll be honest with you, I deferred to him because he knows what he’s doing.”

Brown honored Archuleta’s dedication to the Wilson Field renovation project by providing him a plaque that read “Captain: Someone who knows the way, someone who goes the way, someone who shows the way.”

“Thank you Mr. Archuleta, the OMHS captain.”

Brown added, “This new stadium opens many doors and provides many opportunities for our students and community and makes me excited for what the future holds.”

Following the ceremony, MCSD Superintendent Carrie Stephenson expressed her excitement for future events at Wilson Field and her gratitude for the community support.

“It’s so impressive and I was just telling these guys, you couldn’t have a more beautiful setting than this stadium and it really adds a sense of respect to this school and community,” she said. “It’s just fantastic. We could not be more proud of it.”

Stephenson added: “I was thrilled (by the community turnout) and it was so impressive to see how many sponsors we had. We just couldn’t complete it without their support.”

During her time in the school, Stephenson has become acquainted with several students who have shared their pride for where they come from and their school.

“I know they will take care of it and there will be a lot of celebration and love that goes into this,” Stephenson said.

OMHS students were also in attendance Friday and are thrilled about their new facility.

“I’m looking forward to running on this track,” Aubrey Good, a OMHS eighth-grader, said. “I’m also looking forward to watching the football games.”

Fellow eighth-grader Teresa Galvan also loves the facility.

“We were always the little school that didn’t have anything and now we are the school with this big, amazing facility,” she said.

Lauren Brant is a staff writer and digital content coordinator for the Montrose Daily Press.

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