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Looking for legroom
Albany junior Jake Lincicum leads a massive pack early, one that he would pace throughout, during the Baertschi Cross Country Invitational in Albany. Despite not having its own track, the Albany track and field programs boys and girls teams have won their conference title the past two seasons.
ALBANY - The fact that Albany High School doesn't have a home track hasn't been a black hole for competition.

Both the Albany boys and girls track teams repeated as Six Rivers East Conference champions this year.

During a school board convention last winter, Albany School District Superintendent Stephen Guenther consulted a firm about developing a new track. Now, Guenther will meet with Jenkins Survey and Design Inc. of Verona this summer to tour the district and consider options for a new track. JSD Inc. completes planning and development, civil site engineering, construction management, surveying and mapping.

"Realistically, the only way it will happen is if we make it part of a referendum," Guenther said. "We would have to approach it like a community wide park and field. It's a long range hope of mine. It would need to be something supported by the whole community."

The support for the track team in the community has been outstanding considering every meet is on the road. The behind-the-scenes training that leads to success may have gone unnoticed.

"A lot of people in the community see the kids are successful," Albany coach Tony Brewer said. "I don't think they have realized what they have done.

"I'm not going to sit here and feel sorry for us for not having one (a track). We have been successful without one. I do look and wonder how much more success we would have if we did have one. You definitely in certain cases are at a disadvantage."

The Comets practice in a street that is 550 meters and set up hurdles in the parking lot. Albany did use Brodhead's track on Sundays for training.

"You can't look at it and feel sorry," Brewer said. "You just use your resources the best you can."

Running track includes making sacrifices.

"They know being on the track will make them better," Brewer said. "You have pride in your program and it's up to the kids to keep the program going."

The Comets have made a living traveling for some practices and every meet.

"If some meets were closer, more people may go and watch them," Brewer said. "That's out of our control."

For the Albany School District, like many smaller high schools, a track is a luxury the budget can't accommodate.

"It doesn't look like in the near future we will get one," Brewer said.

The biggest hurdle, in addition to funding to develop a track facility, would be finding available land as Brewer says the school district's property will not accommodate. Albany used to have a small blacktop track that was not a standard 400 meters.

The district didn't have the money to resurface and maintain the track, Guenther said.

Albany has developed a community education foundation that teachers and community leaders can apply for grants to offer programs for students.

Many schools in the Six Rivers East don't have tracks. In tight budget times, developing a track takes a back seat to education.

Guenther said the community education foundation is in the early stages with about $4,000.

"It gets to be more of a luxury than a necessity," Guenther said of a track for many schools. "It's one of the things that gets the proverbial axe."

Yet, Guenther believes the program deserves a track.

"I would love to see it happen," Guenther said. "Our success in cross country and track I would hope would spur some of that. We have a long history of excellent runners. It's a nice tradition."