'A long time coming': Dighton-Rehoboth track teams will soon be back on home turf

·4 min read

DIGHTON — Next year, the athletes at Dighton-Rehoboth Regional High School will again be able to compete on their home track for the first time in four years.

During a recent afternoon practice, Superintendent of Schools Anthony C. Azar announced to the spring track team members that the high school will be getting a new track by the end of June.

“For much of the student population, the news of the new track has been met with tremendous excitement,” said Brandon DeLano, head cross country and winter track coach. “Hopefully this will be great for our program and increase participation.

Superintendent Anthony Azar, left, and Kristoff Eldridge of  Cape and Island Tennis & Track discuss plans for a new track at Dighton-Rehoboth Regional High School.
Superintendent Anthony Azar, left, and Kristoff Eldridge of Cape and Island Tennis & Track discuss plans for a new track at Dighton-Rehoboth Regional High School.

“The news is bittersweet for the senior class who has never experienced a home meet,” he said. “They are obviously excited for their peers, teammates and the rest of the community, but it would’ve been great to get them a home meet before they graduated. That said, everyone that I’ve talked to is ecstatic and glad that the program will have a new facility that has been a long time coming.”

How much will it cost?

The cost of the project is $379,700 and it will be funded by one-time savings the district achieved this year, District Business Administrator Robert Baxter said.

“We made a conscientious decision to look at various ways to fund the cost to replace the track and now we are in an excellent financial position to fully fund the track replacement within our current fiscal 22 budget with no additional cost to our taxpayers in Dighton or Rehoboth,” Azar said.

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“Due to numerous building facility issues that we inherited and fixed over the past eight years with the support of our two towns and school committee since becoming superintendent, it was clear that we needed to focus our attention on replacing the school track.

“Unfortunately, with the COVID-19 pandemic impacting all facets of our school environment, our plans to replace the existing track were put on hold for the past two years.”

From left Business Administrator Robert Baxter, Kristoff Eldridge of Cape and Island Tennis & Track, Superintendent Anthony Azar and teacher/track coach Brendan De Lano discuss plans for a new track at Dighton-Rehoboth Regional High School.
From left Business Administrator Robert Baxter, Kristoff Eldridge of Cape and Island Tennis & Track, Superintendent Anthony Azar and teacher/track coach Brendan De Lano discuss plans for a new track at Dighton-Rehoboth Regional High School.

Azar said that the initial prep work has already begun and the repairs will hopefully be completed by mid-June.

What the project will involve

Cape and Island Tennis & Track has been hired to handle the repair project, Azar said.

When repairs are complete the track will be substantially similar to the existing track, Baxter said. The project involves removal and disposal of existing track surface, cleaning and repair of existing asphalt, extending the shoulder of the track and installation of a base and overlay of bituminous concrete pavement mix recommended by track manufacturer and the American Sports Builders Association, Baxter said.

The track was last resurfaced around the year 2000, DeLano said. Since that time, especially as of late, much of the number and line work began to wear off.

“What made matters worse was that large chunks of the rubberized surface began to peel off in a pothole like fashion,” he said. “Large pieces, the size of sewer manholes eroded and peeled from the surface, as well as small pieces of rubber were scattered around the length of the track.”

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How it's impacted the track and field team

In 2017/18 a head official with USA Track & Field condemned the track for any competitions. Since that time Dighton-Rehoboth teams have practiced on the surface out of necessity, but as time went on it proved to be less and less effective as a practice facility, DeLano said.

“Along with the difficulty of practicing, we have not had a home track and field meet since the time it was condemned,” he said. “All of our meets are scheduled to be away and therefore have to travel anytime we compete.”

For the remainder of this track season the district “will be cobbling together” practices at various facilities including on campus, on grassy areas, in the gymnasium, and at Dighton Town Hall,” DeLano said. When off campus the district will bus kids to practice and then bus them back home.

“It was truly a pleasure hearing Dr. Azar tell the kids on the D-R track team that they will be getting a new track,” Dean of Student Activities and Athletics Doug Kelley said. “It’s been a long road for these kids and they have been very patient waiting for a new track. I am truly excited for our track athletes.”

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From left, Assistant Superintendent Adam Blaisdell, teacher/track coach Benjamin Pease, Superintendent Anthony Azar, teacher/track coach Brendan DeLano,  Business Administrator Robert Baxter and Kristoff Eldridge of Cape and Island Tennis & Track, discuss plans for a new track at Dighton-Rehoboth Regional High School.
From left, Assistant Superintendent Adam Blaisdell, teacher/track coach Benjamin Pease, Superintendent Anthony Azar, teacher/track coach Brendan DeLano, Business Administrator Robert Baxter and Kristoff Eldridge of Cape and Island Tennis & Track, discuss plans for a new track at Dighton-Rehoboth Regional High School.

“Today’s announcement from Dr. Azar was both exciting and promising,” DeLano said. “Learning that demolition and reconstruction is imminent buoyed the spirits of the athletes and has created a sense of excitement for future seasons.

“The track is the most used and trafficked competition surface in the district,” DeLano said. “Not only is it a community resource, utilized by walkers and joggers, it also serves as a practice and competition facility for cross country, winter and spring track. We have not been able to host a home meet, nor have we had a suitable practice surface, since 2018. However, Dr. Azar’s work promises that our program and our district will benefit from this important asset for years to come.”

Staff writer Donna Whitehead can be reached by email at dwhitehead@tauntongazette.com.

This article originally appeared on The Taunton Daily Gazette: Dighton-Rehoboth high school track being repaired this spring