All-County track at Fern Creek - No Kidding

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By Mike Farner

 SHEPHERDSVILLE – The annual All-Bullitt County Track and Field Championships will be held on Monday at Fern Creek High School.

That is not a misprint.

The All-BULLITT County Track and Field Championship will be conducted at a school in Jefferson County.

The reason for it is simple. The three Bullitt County High Schools do not have a facility that is fit to conduct a track meet under safe conditions.

Last year’s county championships did start at Bullitt East but were halted after a handful of events because of inclement weather. That is the last high school meet conducted in the county. Bullitt Central has not hosted a track meet in at least three years and the last time North Bullitt had a meet was the county meet two years ago.

(It should be pointed out that the Bullitt County middle schools do conduct meets on the three high school tracks with how much success I don’t know. However, middle school meets don’t have the same safety rules as mandated by the KHSAA for high school meets.)

There was a time 30 years ago when both Bullitt Central and North Bullitt hosted regional track meets on a six-lane asphalt track. That might as well have been 130 years ago now. Many high schools in the area now sport eight-lane rubberized tracks, including all three of the public schools in Nelson County.

While the area tracks have been in decline for a long time, the problems have gotten a lot worse in the past five years. When the three high schools got new football lights, some of the wiring needed to be run under the tracks. The trenches were dug through the track and the repaving of those areas was not good.

Still, the Bullitt County Board of Education attempted a misguided patch job a year later, basically just resealing the tracks and then relining. The resealing didn’t look too bad, but it just masked the age of the tracks. On top of that, the lining of the tracks was hideously done as lines ran out into the grass and lanes weren’t uniform in width.

So, we pretty much have nothing now. And it is a shame as Bullitt County is having a golden age in track and field right now. At least one Bullitt County track athlete has won a state championship in each of the last six years. That is after a 25-year break without a state title.

In addition, none of the high schools have a certified pole vault pit, although, that is true of most schools in the state. What is a major problem is that there is no certified discus area in the county. The KHSAA now mandates soft-netting around the throwing area (after years of requiring a chain-link enclosure).

Amazingly, Bullitt East has won a state discus title each of the past three years including going one-two in the boys’ discus last season. However, until this year, Jackie Stevens, Trevor Troutman and Andrew Okruch practiced and threw at Fern Creek under private coach Bo Baker. Unfortunately, Baker is no longer able to assist area throwers and Okruch this year is back at Bullitt East.

The Bullitt County Board of Education is now in the process of building auxiliary gyms at all three high schools along with a major renovation at Bullitt Central. When that is completed, the need for ‘new’ tracks has got to be near the top of the need list.

And we’re talking about ‘new’ tracks – not resealed or resurfaced. We need track facilities that are both safe and competitive. This is not the time for a ‘how cheap can we do it and get by’ mentality which unfortunately seems to be the way of doing things at this point.

Near Soccer Shame

While the track situation is embarrassing for the school board at this point, the board just missed another shameful sports moment last fall concerning the poor soccer field at North Bullitt.

When the North Bullitt Lady Eagles won the 23rd District tournament last season, that put them in line to host a first-round game in the Sixth Region Tournament. As it turned out, since one district in the region had only one team qualify, there was a first-round bye for one of the district winners. Fortunately, North Bullitt got that bye.

For the three days between the end of the district tournament and the draw for the regional tourney, North Bullitt officials were in plans to ‘host’ that first-round game at Southern High School. Embarrassment averted.

Since that time, the school board has bought additional land on the south side of the North Bullitt campus. Plans are already in the works for a soccer field there as well as a football practice field and perhaps even a cross-country course.

The new soccer field is probably a year or two away, but at least a step has been taken in the right direction.