First track meet held at sports complex
East Carolina University hosted the first track event held at the new Olympic Sports Complex April 11 and 12 when athletes from ECU and three visiting schools gathered to compete in the Bill Carson Invitational.
Track and field teams from the University of South Carolina, UNC Charlotte and UNC Wilmington with more than 300 athletes competed in 35 events.
The Olympic Complex opened two years ago at a cost of $24 million. In addition to the track facilities, the complex has softball and soccer stadiums and a field house with offices and locker rooms. Those facilities have seen regular use.
ECU’s former track facility, Harrington Track at Bunting Field, was bulldozed three years ago to make way for the Olympic Sports Complex. It was where the soccer stadium is now.
ECU last held a home track meet at Harrington Field in 2003.
“Aesthetically this facility is one of the nicest around and to finally get the chance to show it off, I couldn’t be more excited as a coach,” said track and field coach Curt Kraft.
“We were one of the only programs in the athletics department that couldn’t host a home competition, and I’m glad that now we can showcase this excellent facility,” Kraft said.
Kraft said the track facility had not previously been used because of long-term scheduling issues and budget constraints. He credited new Athletics Director Jeff Compher with making it a priority to finally use the facility.
“I just thought we needed to give it a shot and then we can go back and do an assessment,” Compher said.
“If you go back and look at the original design, it wasn’t built for spectators and it is tight from a viewing perspective,” Compher said. “So it’s a challenge to get lots of people out there and have a safe environment.”
Still, Compher said ensuring a home crowd atmosphere is important.
“It’s always exciting to have a group cheering for you. I’m excited for our athletes and several of them came up to me to say how much it means for them to run at home.”