MORGANTOWN — The starting gun will sound on the future of track and field for WVU and all of Monongalia County on Saturday as WVU is set to host the West Virginia Open — the first meet to be held at the new Mountaineer Center track complex, in Mylan Park.
Along with WVU, the meet will include athletes from Bethany College, Waynesburg, West Liberty, Wheeling Jesuit and Robert Morris.
The ribbon-cutting ceremony for the $7 million track facility at 1835 Fitness Way was held last October.
Prep teams from Morgantown and University high schools began practicing at the facility in recent weeks, as has WVU Track & Field, which is only a varsity sport for women.
Saturday’s competition will mark WVU’s first outdoor home meet since 2009.
WVU Track Coach Sean Cleary has said his squad is ready to run before a home crowd at the new track.
“The excitement level to sleep in our own beds and drive up to our facility is something no one in this program has experienced. With that comes a great appreciation for what we have and an excitement for what we can do at home,” Cleary said.
The Mountaineers feature a number of standout athletes, including three-time All-American pole vaulter Madelin Gardner, Shamoya McNeil, the school’s record holder in the triple jump and Hayley Jackson, who was named Big 12 Women’s Track Athlete of the Week on Wednesday after a strong showing at the 49er Classic, held March 15 in Charlotte, N.C.
The event will also be an opportunity to show off ongoing projects at Mylan Park, including the $35 million aquatic center, which is under construction next to the track.
Additionally, crews are renovating restroom and concession areas and building a new ticket booth at the park’s baseball and softball fields.
“Our main goal is to make this place the premiere facility in the Morgantown area and beyond,” Director of Park Operations Jason Selznick said. “We really want to make this place a one-stop shop in the community to come out and enjoy sports.”
Field events get under way at 10:45 a.m. Saturday. Running events begin at 2 p.m.