The West High track and field stadium project is still under way, albeit behind schedule.
At one time, there was talk of beginning construction this spring, but that has been pushed back until summer, at best. Ben Stowell, president of Utah/The Athletics Congress, believes the delay in building the track already has cost the Utah economy.According to Stowell, Utah missed by one vote in a bid to host the 1992 junior olympic track meet and by two votes to host the 1992 master's meet.
"The biggest reason we didn't get it is because they were concerned that the track would not be ready," says Stowell. "It would behoove the community to get behind this facility. It is privately financed. Other public arenas are paid for with taxes. This would pay for itself with one of those big meets. It's estimated that the junior Olympic meet would bring $3 million into a community, and a masters meet is $1 million to $1.5 million."
Track organizers hope to raise about $3.8 million to build a world-class facility; so far, they have raised $1.6 million.
There are three plans to be used successively as more funds become available. Plan A (cost: $800,000) includes the track itself, plus minimal support facilities. Plan B (cost: $2.8 million) would add 5,000 permanent seats, an electronic scoreboard and a press box. Plan C ($3.8 million) would include 11,000 permanent seats.
"We could break ground tomorrow if we needed to and start with the lesser facility, " says Sherm Ross, treasurer of the West High track coalition.
According to Ross, much of the delay in building the track has been caused by an inability to find an another site for a West High baseball diamond.
"If not for the baseball diamond, we could start tomorrow," says Ross. "We are committed to building a diamond, and we're looking for alternative sites . . . There's a very good chance we could break ground (for the track) this summer, but we can't commit to it yet."
COMEBACK SETBACK: Henry Marsh's comeback has gotten off to a rocky start. He ended a two-year retirement by competing in last month's Rogaine 5K road race in Los Angeles, where he finished 31st with a time of 14:57. The comeback attempt has gotten only worse since then.
"It's going real slow," reports Marsh, once the world's top-ranked steeplechaser and still the American record holder. "I'm too far behind for this year."
Marsh, 37, says his comeback has been slowed by a persistent virus - the same one, he believes, that waylaid him during the 1984 Olympic Games. "Maybe it's my age, but I think it was more my immune system that prevented me from getting back to where I needed to be this year," says Marsh. "I was getting in pretty good shape for a while, and then I got sick."
Marsh hopes to compete in a few local races this summer on the track and road, with an eye toward making a fifth Olympic team next year.
"I'm going to take a more gradual (training) approach for next year, but it doesn't look good," he says.
PADILLA'S SLUMP: Doug Padilla's up and down running career is down again. Padilla, the 1990 overall national indoor grand prix champion, had a poor indoor season last winter and finally took most of two months off.
He placed fifth at the Sunkist Invitational, eighth at Millrose, seventh at Vitalis and sixth at Portland. "I just wasn't healthy," says Padilla, who has been bothered by allergies since ranking No. 2 in the world at 5,000 meters in 1981. "I was just never strong."
Padilla began training in earnest again last week and still hopes to compete outdoors. "It depends on what kind of shape I get into," he says. "I'd like to do well (in the U.S. national championships), because of all the benefits of making a national team."
THE RANKINGS: A number of Utah natives and collegians were included in Track & Field News' 1990 world and U.S. rankings. The best of the bunch was Julie Jenkins, the former NCAA champion from BYU and Plain City. She ranked No. 7 in the world at 800 meters and clocked the fourth fastest time in U.S. history, 1:57.82.
Frank Fredericks, a senior at BYU, ranked eighth in the world at 200 meters.
Doug Padilla ranked No. 1 in the U.S. in the 3,000-meter run and No. 2 at 5,00 meters. Ed Eyestone was No. 1 in the U.S. in the marathon, and his training partner, Paul Pilkington, ranked fifth.
UPDATE: Diane Besendorfer, a former Wasatch High state hurdle champion who now attends Ricks College, won the Region 18 heptathlon last week in Oregon. She has qualified for nationals in the heptathlon and the 400 hurdles.