Wilson Field renovation still on track for fall, despite COVID-19

A aerial view of the Olathe Jr./Sr. High School Wilson Field renovation project shows the framework for the new track as well as pits for triple, long and high jump. 

Students and fans will cheer on football and track and field athletes in a new facility this fall as renovation of the Olathe Middle and High School track and field remains on schedule. The renovations upgrade the facility to meet Colorado High School Athletic Association guidelines for an eight lane track.

The $3.2 million project updates the 49-year-old facility that was previously relocated from Lions Park, Joe Archuleta, OHS athletic director said.

“That field was moved up there to that location in 1971,” Archuleta said. “It used to be directly west of the school, where Lions Park is right now.”

Since the relocation, the district has replaced scoreboards, constructed the observation deck on the press box 10 years ago and added new visitor stands three years ago.

Despite the upgrades, the field will retain the name of Wilson Field. Archuleta said the field got its name after Olathe teacher Roth Wilson. Wilson, who became known as “Prof. Wilson,” became a teacher at OHS in 1923 and taught agriculture, biology, science and a coach at the school.

“Roth Wilson brought the first FFA chapter to Colorado,” he said. “Olathe was the first FFA chapter in the 1920s. He was instrumental in the school’s academics and sports.”

Since breaking ground on the renovation in January, Scot Brown, OHS principal, said contractors are moving forward with the project as planned, despite the impacts of COVID-19.

“They are doing a great job,” Brown said. “Contractors are practicing social distancing and wearing the appropriate PPE (personal protective equipment).”

Since the beginning of April, the construction workers have replaced the railroad ties with a similar retaining wall block. The pits for high jump, long jump and triple jump have been sectioned off and framed for concrete.

The next large project is pouring the track, which is scheduled for April 23 and 24. The concrete slab will be poured using the post-tensioning method. Post-tensioned slabs are stressed, by introducing internal forces into the concrete during the construction process. Installing high-strength steel within the concrete is similar to installing rebar and provides additional strength.

“There is a cable system that runs in both directions on the track and once it cures, they tighten it up,” Archuleta said. “If something moves, the whole track moves.”

Once the 1.8 mile of concrete is poured, it will cure for a month. Then there will be a blue-colored synthetic surface overlay laid, which will provide some flexibility.

Over the next few weeks, Archuleta said the community will see the home bleachers and press box show up. Work will also begin on pouring the sidewalks and the foundation for the concession area.

Aside from updating the facility, the renovation project will address stormwater and rainwater drainage issues that previously formed puddles on the track and field.

“It will clean up the landscape of the school and address the issues after rain storms,” Archuleta said. “Part of this project is just the stormwater and rainwater management, which the renovations will improve drainage on it tremendously.”

Brown said the renovation of the facility will enhance the physical activities students can participate in, both during and after school.

“Once this opens, it will provide opportunities for students through increased P.E. activities and it will open up for middle school and high school track athletes to really participate in the fundamentals of track,” Brown said. “If we want to work on track relay handoffs, they can do it from our facility whereas now they travel to the Montrose High School track.”

Prior to the coronavirus shuttering schools, OHS science teacher Mike Knape and his students were using a drone to document the renovation process.

“Right now, with school being out, Mr. Knape took the drone with him, so he can go out once a week to fly and get photos,” Brown said.

The students will compile the daily photos and other footage into a time lapse video once the project is completed.

The renovation project also includes the addition of a concession stand and ADA restrooms on the premises. The school is currently holding a fundraiser for the concession stand. Citizens and businesses that donate may also receive a plaque to commemorate their support. There are four levels of sponsorship: white for $500 donation, blue for $1,000 donation, gold for $1,500 donation and platinum for donations $2,000 or more. The plaques will be included in the design of the concession area, with platinum donors’ plaques in a stone monument within the entry area.

Contact Brown at scot.browns@mcsp.org or Archuleta at joey.archuleta@mcsd.org for donation information.

The renovation timeline is set to conclude in mid-August with the hope it will be ready for football season.

The ribbon cutting ceremony and opening of the renovated facility is scheduled for the first home football game on Sept. 12.

“We are looking forward to the project’s completion,” Archuleta said. “It will accommodate the P.E. programs, middle school and high school track and cross country athletes and the marching band.”

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

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

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