|O'Brien helps cut the ribbon on revamped track|
MOSCOW – On the eve of the Western Athletic Conference track and field championships, the University of Idaho re-dedicated its latest upgraded facility, the Dan O’Brien Track and Field Complex.
O’Brien, the gold medalist in the decathlon in the 1996 Olympics, and All-American at Idaho in 1989, joined supporters of Vandal athletics at the facility Monday morning in a ribbon-cutting ceremony to officially re-dedicate the complex.
“Personally I’m very satisfied,” O’Brien said. “They needed a facility like this, and I’m very honored to have my name on this facility. I came to school here because the facilities were great. The Kibbie Dome and the outdoor track were top-notch at the time, and I said ‘that’s where I want to go’. I hope this attracts young athletes to this area.”
The original facility opened in 1970, and was dedicated to O’Brien in 1996. The $2.5 million renovation, which took place over the last year, features a faster, safer running surface, more efficient use of the infield, and an updated draining system. The complex is set to host the WAC championships May 8-11.
“Our goal was to make the competition area as good as we possibly could,” Idaho director of track and field Wayne Phipps said. “We had an amazing track surface laid down, and within the confines of the track, everybody did a great job of putting everything that we wanted in there. So now not only is the throws setup outstanding, but you can do the long jump and triple jump in either direction, and do two at the same time. You can throw the javelin and run high jump at the same time. We have pole vault set up so we can do vaults north, south, east and west. It’s everything that we could have possibly wanted from a competition standpoint.”
In addition to giving a first-class home to the 2012 WAC track and field championships, O’Brien said the facility should give a boost to Idaho in recruiting.
“When a kid is choosing where he wants to go to school, it just needs to make sense,” O’Brien said. “He needs to feel part of a team, but he needs to like where it is that he’s going. That was one of the reasons I came here, I liked where I was going, I wanted to be with the people that were here. When you have nice facilities, that’s the icing on the cake, and the University of Idaho has wonderful facilities.”
Phipps echoed that opinion.
“From a recruiting standpoint, when you’re bringing people in it’s very impressive,” he said. “But they’re also impressed by the fact that the sport of track and field is being supported by the university. That means a lot to incoming recruits knowing that they’re going to a program at a university that is supportive of track and field.”