In the long run the times will definitely improve, but for now, the KIF track and field athletes and coaches feel that the most important step has already been taken.
For one, the existence of the newly rubberized surface at Vidinha Stadium is a big accomplishment in itself.
Waimea coach Dave Walker, along with the other two coaches, Calvin Paleka of Kapa’a and Ron Velasco of Kaua’i, are all on the same page when it’s said that meets so far have gone more smoothly and more efficiently since the track went through the changes.
Walker said that distance runners will probably feel the most improvement.
Sprinters’ times will improve steadily, but it should take some time to get used to running on the new surface. However, when it comes down to heading off to states, the rubberized tracks won’t be a new and KIF athletes will finally have some continuity with the surfaces being the same from Kaua’i to the state meets.
But more importantly, just having the track go through rainy conditions might be the biggest improvement.
With the old cinder surface, if it rained for the entire day before a meet started, athletes would have to wait until it dried.
“It would be all muddy and now when it stops raining give it a few minutes and it’s ready to go,” Walker said.
The newly rubberized surface is geared to drain within 20 minutes after the rain has stopped.
So far, even KIF athletes have felt that the new track has improved the outlook on the sport.
Kamehameha Schools student Danielle Leanio, who came home to Kaua’i for spring break this past week, took advantage of the conditions to compete in a couple of meets.
What the KIF really wants to accomplish with the new surface is to attract top schools to come down for some competition.
“I think we’ll definitely bring down more schools, just because of the new track and I think they’ll be more adept to come down to compete,” Walker said.
The longtime Waimea track coach, who was a collegiate track star at Central Washington University, is extremely happy with the track.
He mentioned that he was talking to a buddy who knows about track surfaces and when he mentioned that the Vidinha Stadium track is made out of Rekortan, his friend claimed that it was one of the best surfaces around.
The Menehune, who are the only high school team in the state without a track, practices at Vidinha Stadium only once a week, just like the other two schools.
The wear and tear of the track is of utmost care to the county, so to ease the traffic on it, the three schools are allocated just that one day to practice.
A state track and field championship meet is also another alternative that has been opened up for Kaua’i since the inception of the new track.
The more top athletes from around the state that come down to compete, the better it will be for KIF performers, who don’t get to see what the rest of the state has to offer.
So if you haven’t had a chance to go and see the newly rubberized Rekortan surface at Vidinha Stadium, go and feel it for yourself.
Or better yet, take in a KIF track and field meet. The next
KIF athletes made history by being the first ones to compete in an official meet on the new surface.
Hopefully everyone will take some time to check it out, because it surely is a wonderful beginning, which will benefit everyone.
- Duane Shimogawa Jr., sports editor, may be reached at 245-3681 (ext. 257) or firstname.lastname@example.org.