Prep Track and Field

Thursday was going to be Kingston Stadium's reintroduction to high-stakes, high-school track and field

Cedar Rapids finally earned a state-qualifying meet, but the COVID-19 pandemic thwarted that

Hurdles are stored beyond the finish line at Kingston Stadium on Tuesday. Kingston was scheduled to host a Class 4A stat
Hurdles are stored beyond the finish line at Kingston Stadium on Tuesday. Kingston was scheduled to host a Class 4A state-qualifying meet Thursday, but sprint prep sports seasons have been canceled due to coronavirus concerns. (Liz Martin/The Gazette)
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CEDAR RAPIDS — Chris and Carrie Deam celebrated their 21st anniversary April 17.

They did so with takeout from Leonardo’s Pizza and Restaurant, an impromptu picnic outside Kingston Stadium.

“We just looked out over the stadium,” said Deam, athletics director at Cedar Rapids Jefferson. “It kind of bummed me out.”

Thursday was going to be a memorable day for the historic stadium on the southwest side of town, a reunion with relevance on the Iowa high-school track and field scene.

“It was going to be our coming-out party,” Cedar Rapids Kennedy AD Aaron Stecker said. “We were all excited about it ... Chris and Grant (Schultz, Cedar Rapids Washington AD) and me. I was excited about all three of us working together and making this such a big day.”

Instead, the track season was a victim of the coronavirus pandemic, and Kingston’s reintroduction as a postseason site for the sport will have to wait another year.

State-qualifying meets — districts for boys, regionals for girls — were scheduled throughout the state for Thursday, and a renovated Kingston was chosen as one of six sites in Class 4A.

It had sat vacant on state-qualifying day for years because its seven-lane structure made it a non-candidate for hosting.

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Now, despite a $2 million-plus facelift — in which the artificial turf was replaced and the track was widened to eight lanes — the stadium sits quiet again.

“It was important work that (the Cedar Rapids Community School District) supported,” Stecker said. “It looks super nice, and it’s going to be a premier Eastern Iowa track facility.”

Next year.

According to Stecker, it takes “about 50 volunteers” to run an important meet like a state qualifier.

“You need to have adults, and you need to have adults that know what they’re doing,” he said.

Jefferson, Kennedy and Washington annually host their own boys’ and girls’ invitational meets in April. Deam, Stecker and Schultz were hoping a well-run meet Thursday would serve as a dress rehearsal and an incentive for something new and bigger in 2021.

“A major Cedar Rapids Invitational is something we keep talking about,” Stecker said. “We’ve got the seating, we’ve got the eight-lane track, we have the great throwing rings.

“But that might be on hold now (until 2022).”

Comments: (319) 368-8857; jeff.linder@thegazette.com

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