FORT WAYNE – Fort Wayne boasts a long and illustrious history of track and field success, especially with the 10 state titles of the Northrop girls program and the four for the South Side girls program – which rank 1-2 in state history. The Summit City has also played host to track regionals, which is one step before the state meet, for years.
But that won’t be the case going forward as the boys and girls regionals will move from Wayne and Northrop, respectively, to Indiana Wesleyan in Marion. The boys make the move today, and the girls regional will move to Indiana Wesleyan next year.
It’s a better track and a better facility, said IHSAA Assistant Commissioner Robert Faulkens, who oversees track and field for the high school governing body. (Indiana Wesleyan) has upgraded their facilities considerably the last four or five years, and the (high school) coaches wanted the move from Fort Wayne to Marion. It was their impetus for me to go up there and inspect their facility. Once you get there, it is a world-class facility, and if our kids have the opportunity to run on a world-class facility we are going to give them that opportunity.
Faulkens said Indiana Wesleyan has a similar track surface as Indiana University, site of the state finals. Indiana Wesleyan also has a modern timing system and a Daktronics scoreboard.
We try to give our kids the opportunities at the best facilities, and that’s why we have the state meets where we do, Faulkens said of state venues like IU and Ball State as well as Bankers Life Fieldhouse, Lucas Oil Stadium and Victory Field in Indianapolis. Our kids have opportunities that other states’ kids just do not have, and we are proud of that. We try to make that trickle down to the lower (postseason) levels as well.
Faulkens said the coaches wanted to stagger the moves of the boys and girls regionals as to not have them both pulled out of Fort Wayne in the same year. The moves of the regionals out of Fort Wayne would have happened last year, but Indiana Wesleyan was still in the process of putting in a new surface.
Carroll track coach Nathan Fitzgerald said he sees the move as a positive one.
Sometimes a change is good because you get too comfortable at one place, said Fitzgerald, whose Chargers won the North Side boys sectional last week. Sometimes for kids, if they have been there once or twice they end up too much in a comfort zone. The regional, from our perspective, sometimes is that one down meet and it’s the one in between (the sectional and state) and we just have to get through this. Well, you have to qualify, and we aren’t just running the meet. It might be good for us, to go to a new place and be out of our comfort zone.