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Fort Frances Muskies track meet, May 2022. Image: Randy Thoms/Acadia Broadcasting

Muskies’ track coach seeks new facilities

By Randy Thoms Mar 13, 2024 | 12:58 PM

The track and field coach for Fort Frances High School would like improvements to the school’s track facilities.

“The problem is that it’s not even. It’s not level. It’s not consistent material that you’re running on. So, it’s difficult to train on properly, and it’s definitely difficult to compete on, especially for the sprints and such,” says Dutton.

The track is graded in the spring, but Dutton notes vegetation grows through it, and the football field is encroaching the inside lane.

“So we really don’t even know if we’re running a 400-metre track on the inside lane because we don’t know where the edge of the track actually is anymore.”

The team has also had to paint the lane lines each spring.

It is often done by the town with a line-painting machine.

Last year, that equipment broke down, forcing Dutton, a parent, and another coach to hand-paint the lines using a paint gun and a template.

The job took them seventeen hours.

“When you actually start painting or doing any of the stuff that you have to do, you find out how unlevel, how unstraight and inconsistent everything is. What we’re hoping to do is just bring it up to a standard, something like Dryden has at their high school.”

A new track would likely include be a rubberized surface with the lines made permanent.

Dutton estimates the price tag to come in at about one million dollars.

That would include new facilities to run other track and field events.

“That would give us a full running track and all the support areas, like the run-up for the high jump, long jump, triple jump, and a concrete surface for the throwing areas,” says Dutton.

It also avoids using areas like the tennis courts for the high jump where athletes can not wear spikes.

Fort Frances Muskies track meet, May 2022. Image: Randy Thoms/Acadia Broadcasting

Dutton recently presented his proposal to the Rainy River District School Board, asking that it be included in the next budget.

He says there has been growth in the Muskies’ track and field team.

When Dutton started coaching 17 years ago, the entire team could travel to meets comfortably in two minivans.

Last year, they needed two buses to transport the 75-member team.

This year, 90 students have expressed an interest in the team that started training a few weeks ago.

The Muskies team is also one of the most successful, sending up as many as a dozen athletes to the provincial championships each year for the past decade.

Dutton feels the board was receptive to the track and field improvements.

He says he will now wait for the budget to determine next steps.

The board usually presents its budget in June.