The palpable sense of urgency associated with today’s Johnson County Track and Field Meet at Franklin Community High School will last somewhere in the neighborhood of four hours.
And that’s just the workers.
Hosting a major meet such as today’s six-team field isn’t merely a case of lining up athletes, voicing instruction, handing out stopwatches and hurriedly designating volunteer teens to be the hurdles crew.
It requires plenty of advance preparation, as anywhere from 25 to 30 people assigned tasks ranging from concession worker to official timer function as one to make those four hours move along smoothly.
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Franklin, which this season alone also hosts Saturday’s Bill Self Invitational, the Mid-State Conference Meet (May 5) and a girls sectional (May 19), takes pride in its reputation for putting on a quality track and field meet.
“Probably the most important thing is staffing and help,” Franklin athletic director John Regas said. “What’s enabled Franklin to be successful to host is sort of an all-hands-on-deck mentality, whether it would be spouses, other sport coaches, kids of coaches, faculty members … everybody jumps in and helps out on these things,”
“Help is a big thing around here at Franklin. It’s sort of in our culture.”
Not always was the sense of community assistance matched by the Grizzly Cubs’ athletic facilities the way it is today.
Longtime Franklin boys track coach Mike Hall remembers the old high school track – the first high school all-weather oval in Indiana having made its debut in 1963 – being virtually unusable for such meets for roughly two decades.
A long-overdue resurfacing in 1999 drastically improved the running surface. A restructuring of the home bleachers allowed the track to be expanded from six running lanes to eight.
Still, it wasn’t until the current athletics facilities debuted with the opening of the new high school the 2007-08 school year that Franklin took hosting to a whole new level.
“I think we’re obligated to share our facilities with people,” Regas said. “For me it’s not a track conversation. We host a number of events throughout the year whether it be county, conference or sectional.”
Continuity helps. The more Franklin hosts an event, be it on school grounds, or at a nearby golf course the better it becomes at it.
In the fall, the Cubs hosted a Class 4A volleyball sectional, as well as girls soccer and girls and boys cross country sectionals. In the winter, Franklin hosted the girls and boys swimming and diving sectionals.
Track, however, can be a more complex show to put on.
“It gets down to having a starter, and in a bigger meet, even an assistant starter,” Hall said. “You need a clerk to organize the athletes before each race and you need someone to do the P.A. and run the pressbox.
“There has to be a qualified adult at each of the field events and those who help them. And that’s not even counting the ticket takers and those taking results up to the pressbox.”
Hall is in his 30th season as the Cubs boys coach. Tim Leonard is in his 29th as Franklin’s girls track and field coach, while Hall’s wife, Jan, has been handling public address chores for 20 years for both track programs.
“As you have (coaching) turnover, a lot of times you don’t have the consistency with getting help and things like that” Regas said. “Coach Leonard and coach Hall, I would think if you combine their years of service it would have to be one of the highest in Indiana.
“That combined with the fact we have great facilities … we’re very blessed to have the facilities we have and we need to share in that.”
High profile track and field postseason meets aren’t leaving Franklin anytime soon.
The IHSAA has designated Franklin to host a girls regional every third, year beginning in 2017, while Franklin’s boys do the same starting in the spring of 2018.
Regas has no doubt Franklin, be it the city, school or team will be ready.
It’s what they do.
JOHNSON COUNTY MEETS
When: Today, 5:30 p.m.
Where: Franklin High School
Teams: Center Grove, Edinburgh, Franklin, Greenwood, Indian Creek and Whiteland
Coaches meeting: 4:45 p.m. in meeting room inside locker room next to track
Event schedule: Field events and 3,200 relay, 5:30 p.m.; track trials, 5:45 p.m.