Perry cancels annual track meets amid safety concerns, plans renovation

Sean Cordy
Cindy Truong takes off after a handoff for the distance medley team during a home meet in 2019. Perry will not be hosting home track meets in 2021.

For the second year, Perry will not be able to host its four annual track meets for both the middle and high school teams. After inspecting the Jim Kaufman Track over the past couple of weeks, school officials deemed the weathered and cracked surface unsafe for competitive events in 2021 and will need to be replaced. Practices will still be held on-site with the precaution of only using certain areas of the track.

Speaking with the Perry Chief, Activities Director Scott Pierce said the decision was ultimately made to forgo hosting responsibilities with the safety of Perry student-athletes and competitors in mind. The immediate plan is to fill a number of spots to enable safe practices for short-distance events but that the best fix is to replace the track for longevity and future safety.

"We all agreed, especially since it was already in plans," Pierce said in regards to the upcoming phase three of the facility renovations that previously installed new bleachers and press box. "Now we kind of get the push. We're hoping for within two years."

Still in the early stages of development, the design and material are yet to be decided. An eight-lane track remains a possibility alongside the planned installation of a new high jump pit behind the east end zone.

"The ultimate goal here is to offer all students the opportunity to compete and participate in an environment to support the highest levels of commitment, personal growth, respect, enthusiasm, integrity and excellence," Pierce added in a letter to the community.

After Iowa canceled last year's entire spring sports season due to COVID-19, this marks the second year in a row the track will go without hosting the annual PHS Davis Relays, Bluejay/Jayette Relays, John Turner Middle School Relays and Middle School Girls Mary Waggie Relays. The district has reached out to each of the namesake families to reassure that this pause is temporary.

Pierce also reminded families and fans to stay positive amid this project as the school aims to reach the funds needed to bring these beloved meets back to Perry.