With a ceremonial toss of soil, student-athletes at Oregon Tech welcomed the start of construction on the track and field that they had been training on—some since they were in high school in Klamath Falls.
In March, the University announced the Bringing Home the Gold campaign to revitalize the facility to conference standards. The campaign launched with a $100,000 matching opportunity that was met with community support within the first month. The project also gained the endorsement of Olympic gold medalists in track and field, Ashton Eaton and Dan O’Brien.
The $2.5 million project includes a track and field with high-quality surface materials as well as a refurbished grandstand and facilities. Through designated sports lottery funds, state bond funding and community contributions, Oregon Tech has secured $1.85 million of the funding required and is fundraising the remaining $650,000 throughout the summer.
Graduating this year from Mechanical Engineering, Mark French is excited for the future of the program.
“The renovation for the track means a lot to me because over the time that I’ve been here, we’ve advanced our program to be exceptional,” he said. “Our coach has done a lot of great work to make us into the elite programs that we are today. Having a new track goes into advancing the success and the future potential that we can have as athletes.”
A new track will once again enable Oregon Tech to host track meets, which creates a better student-athlete experience, while it builds community pride and enhances local economic development through increased visitors to the region. Additionally, a new track strengthens student-athlete recruitment and retention efforts, providing Oregon Tech’s distinctive career-ready education—and the value that it brings—to even more talented students.
“This is my third year at Oregon Tech with this team, and both track and cross-country are so talented,” said Delani Dietrich, a junior in Biology-Health Science. “We have the talent, and now we will have the track to really show all that we’ve got.”
Oregon Tech’s championship track, field and cross-country program are host to upward of 80 stellar student-athletes, who will be able to run on the track once again in spring 2022 for a home meet.
The groundbreaking came shortly before the athletes headed to the 2021 NAIA Track and Field National Championship in Gulf Shores, Alabama Twelve athletes in total headed to the 2021 NAIA Track and Field National Championship. The men’s team sent eight participants while the women’s team sent four. Led by Hunter Drops, who enters the championship ranked No. 1 in the javelin and 11th in the pole vault, the Owls are hoping to take first place in men's 5k men’s and women’s 10k, men’s and women’s javelin, the men’s decathlon and women’s 400-meter dash. The competition began Wednesday, May 26, and conclude May 28.
For more information or to give online, go to www.oit.edu/Gold.###