Any doubts about the value of the new athletic facilities at FDR High School were all erased Sat., May 3, when the First Annual Invitational Track Meet attracted 12 high school teams and a big turnout of spectators, all of whom came to set records and see records established.
Along with the host, FDR, teams for the inaugural competition came from Saugerties, Highland, Rhinebeck, Millbrook, New Paltz, Spackenkill, Wallkill, Pine Plains, Onteora, Dover, and Rondout Valley.
The event was dubbed the “Oval Office” Invitational in keeping with the school’s nickname, the “Presidents.” The name provided a positive note to the campaign slogan, “Keep FDR on Track,” which was put forth in recent years by advocates for the athletic fields renovation.
Residents of the school district responded with a positive vote to renovate and construct the athletics complex two years ago; the complex opened last September. In addition to track and field events, the renovated track and fields are used by football, lacrosse and soccer teams.
The pride and appreciation demonstrated by students, staff, and residents in attendance for the “Oval Office” meet highlight the new facility’s value to the community.
“We are really excited today,” said Coach Steve Nilson, a physical education teacher at FDR. “It is the first time in over 30 years that we are able to hold such an invitational meet on our campus.”
His words were echoed by relay runner Maleek Smith, a ninth grader, who said, “What is so unique about this is that we now have the best track facility in the county, and it is just amazing.”
Kai Peterson, a junior pole vault and relay runner, added, “This is such a great field to practice on, and it has certainly increased opportunities for all of us on the track and field team.”
“It was a long time in coming,” said Coach Kelly Gouid. “But the athletes love it and so do we, and we’re hoping to do well today!”
Coach Rebecca Holton, who teaches 6th grade at Haviland Middle School and was a distance runner at SUNY New Paltz before taking her current job, added with a broad smile, “We should do well today. This facility is just great.”