MORGANTOWN — A contribution of $50,000 from Friends of Track and Field (FOTAF) will assist in lighting up Mylan Park’s new track and field complex.
FOTAF is a fund through Your Community Foundation. The Foundation was to announce the contribution at the Dec. 5 Monongalia County Commission meeting, which was cancelled when Governor Jim Justice called for a day of remembrance after the passing of former President George H.W. Bush.
The $50,000 contribution will be added to $600,000 in the form of $300,000 contributions from both the county commission and WVU Athletics.
FOTAF was founded by Mike Mosser, Carl Hatfield and former WVU Track and Cross Country Coach Martin Pushkin.
Hatfield is WVU’s first cross country All-American, an honor he claimed in both 1967 and 1968.
Mosser became the first and only national champion for WVU Men’s Track & Field in 1972 when he won the NCAA 1,000-meter indoor title.
Mosser said that he, Hatfield and Pushkin pulled FOTAF together with the original goal of supporting the reorganization of men’s track and cross country at WVU. Both were eliminated as varsity sports for men in 2003 after 98 years of competition.
Track and cross country continue to be varsity sports for women at WVU.
Mosser said that while it doesn’t currently look as if there is a desire to bring the men’s varsity teams back, FOTAF’s founders felt that supporting the new state-of-the-art track complex at Mylan Park would not only aid current athletes of all ages, but could help grow the sport locally to the point that it would be in WVU’s interest to reconsider men’s track and cross country.
“We just really felt it would help the community to put some lighting in there so that it could have the best exposure to the middle school, high school and college kids,” Mosser said. “Could it help in some way to bring back men’s track, we’d like to hope it could some day.”
Mosser went on to say that he’s excited about the quality of the new facility and what it will mean to track and cross country athletes. He said he hates to see the top male runners forced to leave the state to compete at the highest level.
“This is about trying to build the track and field community up, all the way from the middle school to junior high, high school and of course, the ladies at WVU will be using it for meets and practice,” Mosser said. “It’s a first class facility and we felt it needed to have lighting to really get the most out of it.”
Mylan Park Foundation President Ron Justice said the lights were included in the track complex plans and bid out as an unfunded alternative. Now that the funding has been identified, placement of the lights will move forward in the spring through contractor Tri-County Electric.
The $7 million track and field complex was opened at 1835 Fitness Way on Oct. 26. It sits next to a $35 million aquatic center that is expected to open next fall.
The facilities — known as Mountaineer Center — are a collaborative effort between Mylan Park, the Hazel Ruby McQuain Charitable Trust, WVU, the Monongalia County Commission, the Monongalia County Board of Education (BOE), the Greater Morgantown Convention and Visitor’s Bureau and various other stakeholders.
Both the track and aquatic facilities will be home to WVU athletics as well as local high school teams. Both will also feature amenities aimed at community use, including a 1/3-mile walking track.
The Mylan Park Foundation financed the Mountaineer Center projects and will own the facilities.