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Softball and track still hamstrung by flood

BY TRAVIS VARNER | JUNE 12, 2009 7:26 AM

Iowa’s softball and track programs are still feeling the lingering effects of the 2008 flood.

Because of damage caused, the entire softball complex had to be completely renovated, and the Cretzmeyer Track and Field Complex’s already existing renovation project was delayed several months. The project is now projected to be finished later this summer.

Iowa softball head coach Gayle Blevins remembers just how devastated the area was from the flood.

She recalls the water covering the track, the softball complex, the Coralville Strip, and more.

“The water covered everything — that whole place looked like a lake,” she said. “I’m talking about the entire complex, over to the track, past the track, all the way up to Walgreens — it was halfway up the street near Sonic.”

The damage to the softball fields was extensive. The flood was so expansive that water was up to the bleachers. Everyone from the players to the coaches helped remove as many important materials as possible before the flood arrived. What was left was destroyed.

Iowa Associate Athletics Director Jane Meyer led in the repair efforts of both complexes affected. In order to reconstruct Pearl Field, university workers had to put in new dirt, lay new grass, rip out all existing carpet, and rebuild lockers.

“It was quite a challenge … with Pearl, we redid the entire complex, including the three recreational fields,” Meyer said. “We redid the locker rooms, to the restrooms, to the concession areas, and re-sodded the field.”

Another challenge the university faced was the extra work put into Cretzmeyer. Already under renovation in order to meet the standards to host NCAA meets, the flood hit right in the middle of the project, damaging improvements put in place.

The UI had laid the track before the flood, so it was forced to tear it up and start over. Meyer was frustrated because it pushed them back extensively.

“[The flood] set us back, we delayed to let the water go away, and then we came back to reassess the additional damage done by the flood,” Meyer said. “It bubbled up the polyurethane surface because it was no longer attached to the asphalt, so we had to take out the entire polyurethane surface.”

Both the Iowa men’s and women’s track and field teams had been scheduled to host the Big Ten championships this season. But because the complex was unfinished, the teams will now be the hosts in 2011. The teams were also forced to spend every scheduled home meet on the road because of having no facilities.

Iowa women’s track and field head coach Layne Anderson doesn’t think the extra traveling hurt his team. He said he has moved on and is excited for the championships in two years.

“Our only extra travel was really to Illinois and then the Big Ten championships,” Anderson said. “The exciting thing is that in 2011, we’ll be hosting the championships, so we got two years to enhance our program in terms of recruiting, talent, depth, and the team.”

Because all the work is not yet completed, Meyer declined to estimate the cost of renovation. She thinks the programs affected were able to still bring in strong recruits, and the flood didn’t cause a major drop in the number of commitments.

“I think people understood what the entire community was going through — it’s never easy to recruit without facilities to showcase, but I think people were understanding,” Meyer said.


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