By Dan Hardenbrook

When Newberry Athletic Director Anthony Kitzman launched an effort to replace Newberry’s crumbling track last year, he wanted to bring glory back to the program. The 2006 NHS Graduate was a member of UP State Championship teams in high school, and wanted give current and future era of athletes a healthy track to compete on. Without it, their training is less effective.

The track has a poor reputation in the running community. Newberry’s track is still its original surface, consisting of outdated cinder concrete that is physically tolling on the athletes who use it. Several schools refuse to run here. Team and individual entries have dwindled for Newberry’s home meets. Teams that do visit often limit their top runners or hold them out of races completely to avoid potential injury.

When the MHSAA prioritized eight-lane tracks or those with modern, rubberized surfaces, Newberry’s home meets, which were often fundraiser events that drew large crowds and spectators to town, became just another spot on the schedule.

Kitzman has analyzed every inch of the track. He now knows it like the back of his hand. He can close his eyes and visualize every poor spot and tell you exactly where it is.

He went to work, launching a large-scale fundraising project for an upgraded and expanded surface, and a new look, offering corporate sponsorships to benefit the community and the school. Most importantly, he envisioned a facility that could not only host large, prestigious events, but also be a safe and inspiring place for the local kids.

Minor work and upgrades to the track have begun, and other projects like crack sealing and painting are planned for this spring and summer. But the biggest improvements are still being evaluated. Kitzman says he has received about $129,000 in pledges for the project. However, many large donors and sponsors have asked that their funds be used for a total rebuild of the track, not just temporary fixes. Until that request is honored, the funds aren’t available.

It’s not that people don’t want to donate; there has been plenty of support. Donors share the same thought and goal: Make it the absolute best that they can for local kids.

Projects scheduled to move forward include lane sponsorships, which are available to business, organizations, or individuals who donate to have their name painted on the actual track itself. The 10-year sponsor terms can start immediately and will transfer over when a new surface is in place, or donors can choose to start their period then when upgrades are complete.

School administration says they will make project plans with Luce County Parks and Recreation and industry professionals before bringing proposals to the school board and starting the bid process.

Newberry does not have a scheduled home high school track meet this season for the first time in decades to avoid any disruptions and allow the project to move forward without delays.

“I’m not willing to have anyone run on that track with the holes that we have on the far side,” Kitzman said emphatically. “Right now there are actual holes on the far side, and there is about 1,400 hundred square feet of hole on various parts of the track.”

The entire first inside lane of the track is unusable for events, he said, which is a major disadvantage to teams and runners who earn their lane choice or prefer that spot in events. There are also several stretches and areas where the cement is cracking and allowing roots and weeds to push up through the surface. Several deep cracks have only ever been treated with temporary dirt or tar filling instead of being closed or sealed.

Kitzman hopes the temporary delay is only a small hurdle to clear. He has continued working closely with track coaches Cori Canfield (varsity girls), Andrew Schultz (varsity boys) and Mark Canfield (middle school) to provide the best experience for the athletes while planning upgrades. The next step is to decide what best suits the school and the community, and to determine the easiest, most efficient, and safest ways to make the dream upgrades a reality.

Anyone with questions or who can help or make a donation can contact Kitzman at the school or by email at