Ironton HS to get new home 'turf'
Sept. 19, 2014, will be a memorable date for Ironton High School football.
On that night, the Fighting Tigers will play their first home game ever on an an artificial surface. And remember, Tanks Memorial Stadium opened in 1926.
In recent years, civic leaders, business leaders, fans, etc., have longed for synthetic turf at Tanks Memorial Stadium/Bob Lutz Field (that name was added after legendary coach Bob Lutz stepped aside after 2011). High school fields at Ironton, Portsmouth, Wheelersburg, Rock Hill, Coal Grove, South Point and Chesapeake all have artificial turf now.
The existing natural grass at Tanks Memorial Stadium is being removed. ProGrass, based in Pittsburgh, Pa., is the company in charge of this project. The nearest Ohio field with Pro Grass turf is Chillicothe. ProGrass installed synthetic turf at Hurricane High in 2011.
In 2011, a volunteer group comprised of civic and business leaders calling itself the Ironton High School Turf Committee was formed. In 2013, that committee merged with the existing Tanks Memorial Stadium Committee with the common goal of replacing the grass with field turf. The cost of the project is $600,000.
Dean Nance, superintendent of Ironton Schools, told the Ironton Tribune newspaper that half of the necessary funding has been secured. The TMSC secured funding to make sure the project would be done by Sept. 19 when rival Ashland crosses the Ohio River to take on the Fighting Tigers.
Donations and pledges are still being sought. Jodi Rowe-Collins, executive vice president of Citizens Deposit Bank and TMSC member, said the Tanks committee continues to gather pledges with installments up to five years. All donations are tax-deductible and can be made to the Tanks Memorial Stadium Fund Inc., 807 S. Third St., Ironton, Ohio, 45638. Or, contact any member of the TMSC, school administration, athletic director Mark LaFon or coach Mark Vass.
The turf is expected to have a lifespan of 10 years, which will save the school district significant money annually in field maintenance and provide greater flexibility to utilize the field throughout the year. Tanks Memorial Stadium is the only covered-seating stadium remaining in Ohio. In Ohio, field turf is a must for second-round playoff games and beyond. Ironton finally will meet that requirement. "It will mean a great deal to our program and our future," Vass said.
"When we saw the opportunity to put our best field turf system in at Tanks Memorial Stadium/Bob Lutz Field we jumped at the chance, this is truly a unique blend of old and new and something we really wanted to be a part of," Bobby Thomas, president of ProGrass, said in a company release.
A rendition of what the new field will look like can be seen at prograssturf.com.
STREAK CONTINUES: When the 100th West Virginia High School Track and Field Championships ended last week at Laidley Field in Charleston, Point Pleasant High had produced at least one state champ for the third straight year.
In Class AAA boys, sophomore Tannor Hill won the shot put with a personal-best toss of 49 feet, 6 inches. Hill, who suffered a separated shoulder while finishing second at 195 pounds in the State Wrestling Tournament on March 1, got two more points with a fifth in the discus (148-8). Teammate and fellow sophomore Cody Mitchell placed second in the discus (152-6). That accounted for the team's 20 total points.
TRACK WRAPUP: One final note about the centennial state meet.
It will be remembered for 14 false starts. Parkersburg won Class AAA boys with 93 points despite having a favorite in a hurdles race go out via a false start and getting just six points in field events. The Big Reds ended Jefferson's title run at four in a row.
"We didn't have a good first day. I was worried," first-year coach Rod O'Donnell said. "I had a meeting. I told the kids tomorrow (Saturday) would be a test of character. It would be a preview. When challenged in life, act like a champion."
O'Donnell is a former track and cross country coach at Marshall University and is in the Marshall Athletic Hall of Fame. He downplayed his role in the success of the Big Reds in his first year. "It's all about the kids," he said. "This will go a long way to getting people on board. We need to get in that habit of winning."
HELP FOR SPRING VALLEY: Rocky Top's Pizza is sponsoring Timberwolf Tuesday's starting this week. Every Tuesday throughout the summer, Rocky Top's will donate 10 percent of sales to benefit Spring Valley High School. The money will go toward creating a pep club, plus the purchase of T-shirts for a cheering section for all the school's athletic teams. Available only at the "Original" Rocky Top's Pizza located on Buffalo Creek Road.