DHS in anticipation of a new track


Amish Soni

Girls Track and Field coach Nick Fraticelli believes that along with the construction of a new track "aspects of our team will be strengthend where we can move forward as a group."

Amish Soni, Staff Writer

The O’Grady Relays, the school’s prestigious outdoor track and field event hosted annually on the Hatter track, will move this year to Bethel High School because of safety concerns for the student-athletes.

Last month, City Hall announced its $2 million plan to replace deteriorating track this summer. Big events, such at the O’Gradys, however, had to find a new venue for this year only.

According to the News Times, the plan for a new track has been among a list of growing capital improvement projects. City officials told the newspaper that city construction services has [already] set aside $2 million for the work.”

Athletics Director Chip Salvestrini said he is pleased to hear that the “new track is officially in the City of Danbury budget plans for the near future.” He further added how the school needed a “new track badly and a new one could not come at a better time.”

While describing his excitement of the track, Salvestrini urged the necessity of a new track by highlighting precautions that need to be taken. He said that “certain lanes on the track have deteriorated to the point of being unsafe.”

With concerns over the current state of the track, Salvestrini explains how big events such as the “O’Grady Relays, The Dream Invitational, The CIAC State Class Track Meets, FCIAC Boys and Girls Outdoor Track Championships, and FCIAC regular season boys and girls dual and tri meets” all take place at DHS.

While the variety of events are unlimited, the condition of the track causes limits for the smooth conduct of events, especially with safety being the priority.

As safety issues cloud over the track, Salvestrini explained that “we [become] concerned about possible injuries with so many athletes competing.”

The existing track was installed in 2002 and had a “10-year life span which brought us to 2012.” However, he said no city action (the city owns the building and facilities) was taken into consideration until 2015 and 2016 when “the track began to seriously deteriorate.”

Around this time, track coaches started to notice the uneven wear on the track. “That was also the time when we started to make the BOE and the City of Danbury aware that we needed at the very least to get the track refurbished, or replaced,” the AD said.

Salvestrini said he is unsure of the city’s plans in terms of materials for the track and life span for this one. City planners couldn’t be reached for comment. Even so, he said he is “proud of the steps Danbury is making in the community.”

Girls’ coach Nick Fraticelli and Boys’ coach Rob Murray were also pleased with the news.

Fraticelli, coming off a successful indoor track season, said a “new track, and hopefully new equipment and facility improvements, will better all parts of the track and field team and its resources.”

Along with the excitement expressed by Fraticelli, similar emotions are expressed Robert Murray.

While there are many reasons that go into the deterioration of the current track, Murray has highlighted that the most likely reason for deterioration is through “drastic seasonal weather in the Northeast.”

He further adds how the current track has been overdue for the past 5 years and how the early signs of deterioration on the track started with the “red lanes deteriorating rapidly.”

Murray explains how both the boys and the girls track and field teams have tried their best to keep events and invitations at home, however the poor conditions of the track infringes on many activities and events that can be held by the community or the track teams.

As the track constantly deteriorates and is regarded in poor condition by the coaches, student track athletes have different approaches with the renovation of the track.

Adam Fox, junior, describes that the track has caused “my cleats to wear out quickly, whenever I run on the red lanes.” The rapid deterioration of the red lanes has prevented some runners to properly run during practice sessions after school.

He further mentions how “our workouts at times get into some problems when we run as a group.” However, Fox seems hopeful for a new track explaining how “it can provide runners the adequate practice they need for their workout sessions.”

While some express the dire needs of a track, others seem to express gratitude for the new project.

Johanse Martinez, sophomore, relates to the expected track as a “new beginning for the team”.

Martinez, part of the hurdlers and throwers section of the team, seems to be thrilled with the installation of a new track which he feels “will add flexibility to my sprinting.”

He acknowledges how “it’s been tough for the runners with the weather and meets and especially with the team in transition, but a new track might put the team back on the right track.”

Alex Gibson, junior, expects much of the same as Martinez. Gibson says that with a new track “a new incentive is created for runners,” adding that “unity through the track is something we can take forward as a team.”

With the track coming into its final days in its shape, Gibson feels that the “track should be strong enough to repel against the problems we’re facing now.”