Notebook: Jeffco Stadium set to show off improvements at state track this weekend

(Dennis Pleuss)

Jeffco Stadium's new videoboard has live video capability, and also displays results and lineups. (Dennis Pleuss)

Over the course of the past year, Jeffco Stadium has undergone a transformation. When the state track meet begins on Thursday, the facility will, in effect, cut the ribbon on a variety of new improvements.

Included: a resurfaced track, a new video scoreboard, a new timing system and a new drainage system.

"We made some real investment into it that's really going to bring us into the future," Jeffco executive director of athletics Jim Thyfault said Monday.

"Trust me," added Ezra Paddock, manager of operations for Jeffco, "this has taken effort from every department in the district."

A big driving force behind much of the improvements?

"We take seriously the opportunity we have to host the state track meet every year." Thyfault said. "We feel like our part of that, besides providing a facility, is providing a quality facility.

"Time was rolling around where we needed to resurface the track. We felt if we could upgrade the surface and make it an even better one, then that's what we're going to do because we feel the state deserves that."

The surface was part one to the project, along with the new drainage system. "Our surface was at the end of its lifespan," Paddock said. The new surface is what's known as a sandwich system and is used by many colleges and universities.

"It's state-of-the-art," Paddock said. "It's the same thing colleges run on."

And whereas before Jeffco workers often were reduced to five-gallon buckets to be rid of standing water during larger rainstorms, the new drainage system easily handles a lot of moisture. That was tested early on during last fall's massive flooding.

(Dennis Pleuss)

Jeffco Stadium. (Dennis Pleuss)

At the same time of the resurfacing, Jeffco buried all wires that had once surrounded the track.

Next came the new videoboard. The process started last summer when Thyfault was talking with a track coach, who asked about running the timing clock on the scoreboard.

"It just got me to thinking, and I got talking to Ezra about it," Thyfault said. "Anyway, I ran it by my immediate supervisor here, and he thought it was great idea."

Eventually, Jeffco secured a board from Daktronics, a national company which provides videoboards for some of the biggest sporting facilities in the world -- including the Indianapolis Motor Speedway, Madison Square Garden and Auburn's Jordan-Hare Stadium.

"Our job now is to go out and sell some advertising to help offset the funding," Thyfault said.

The video board was first fired up about a week ago. It has live video capability, and also displays results and lineups.

"It really adds to the experience for our kids," Paddock said. "It's just such a big difference. We've only had it up for a week, and they enjoy it so much."

During the state meet, the board will provide live results -- delivered by the new timing system, which was the final piece to the project.

The Lynx system is "the same system that they use at the Olympics," Paddock said, and is wired directly to the new videoboard.

Thyfault said Jeffco is mulling putting new videoboards at its other stadiums -- the North Area Athletic Complex, and Trailblazer Stadium -- as well.

"It just all depends," Thyfault said. "We're going to go out and meet with some businesses and hope to partner up with them, and try and make it a win-win for both of us. If it ends up being a good process, then it could move us into being able to get scoreboards."

Among other future ideas? Family move nights, using Jeffco Stadium's new video screen, during the summer.

Thursday will mark the 30th year of the past 32 that Jeffco has hosted the state track meet. It doesn't look to be going anywhere else anytime soon.

"We love to represent Jeffco when CHSAA comes out and hosts the state meet here," Paddock said. "We try to make it as first class as it can be."

TJ grad listed as No. 5 prospect for MLB Draft

Baseball America released its top 100 prospects for the 2014 MLB Draft on Wednesday. Thomas Jefferson grad Kyle Freeland, a junior at the University of Evansville, is No. 5 on that list.

Freeland, a left-handed pitcher, is 9-1 with a 1.75 ERA in 12 starts this season, and has 111 strikeouts to just seven walks. His stock really took off during a breakout summer in the Cape Cod League, where he was an All-Star after leading all players in strikeouts (48 in nine regular season games, and another 10 in a playoff game).

Also making the top 100 is Regis Jesuit senior David Peterson, who broke his fibula just prior to the season but made a quick recovery to return and pitch in mid-April. Peterson is 1-0 with a 1.17 ERA in 12 innings pitched this season. As a junior, Peterson was 6-3 with a 3.26 ERA.

Peterson is committed to Oregon.

Short stuff

  • Valor Christian graduate Wyndham Clark was featured by the Golf Channel on Mother's Day. Now at Oklahoma State, Clark shared the story of his mother's battle with breast cancer and how he honors her through his game.
  • Kent Denver dedicated a new sports pavilion last night, naming it for longtime football coach and athletic director Scott Yates and his family. The new facility -- known as the Yates Pavilion -- will house basketball and volleyball, and seat 850 people this fall. Here's a photo. Coaching icon Dick Katte, a longtime figure at Denver Christian, attended the ribbon-cutting ceremony on Tuesday, as did a number of former players and coaches. "It is gorgeous," boys basketball coach Todd Schayes said of the facility. "Now I have to make sure to put a strong basketball product in there next year."
  • Valor Christian swim coach Rob Nasser regularly puts out rankings during the season which essentially comprise the best times around Colorado. His most anticipated rankings come out just prior to the state meet, and are based upon the psych sheets. Well, they came out Wednesday and amount to a projected finish at state. The favorites are Air Academy in 4A and Regis Jesuit in 5A. Find the full rankings at cohsswimanddive.blogspot.com.
  • Joe Rausch, largely successful as the boys basketball coach at Sand Creek for the past four seasons, will take over the same position at Pine Creek, according to the Colorado Springs Gazette. Rausch was 73-30 at Sand Creek, and led the 4A Scorpions to the Final 4 in March.
  • Arapahoe's Austin Shindoll scored an incredible behind-the-back game-winner in overtime during the 5A boys lacrosse quarterfinals. Check out this photo. There's also video here; the goal comes right around 1:56.
  • If you missed it, here was what Jeffco Stadium looked like on Monday during the snowstorm. Presumably, the new drainage system had no problem with the melt.