• April 5, 2018—CFISD’s long-standing excellence in track and field should not only remain but likely even improve in the future thanks to improvements in facilities at the district’s secondary campuses made possible by bond funds.

    The upgrades and renovations include new synthetic track surfaces, field event areas and artificial turf football fields at 11 high schools. Valued at $16.9 million, projects are still ongoing but completed at seven campuses.

    Bridgeland High School, which opened in 2017, was designed and constructed with the new surfaces, areas and fields. Cypress Park High School, which opened in 2016 with many of the upgrades, will receive the rest as part of Phase IV projects already underway at Cypress Lakes, Cypress Ranch and Cypress Woods high schools.

    In the assessment leading up to the 2014 Bond, one constant that came from coaches to the athletic office was that tracks were not in great shape and facilities were starting to affect performances, both from a physical and safety standpoint, said Ray Zepeda, CFISD director of athletics.

    “Before, every year we were having to get different parts of the track patched, and so then it would be like just a part that you see is cut out and thin, (and) doesn’t match completely,” said Ruqayya Gibson, Cypress Springs head girls’ track coach.

    The rollout started immediately, with the 10 existing campuses at the time receiving the upgrades and renovations over a three-year period.

    Langham Creek held the 2018 District 17-6A sub-varsity track meet, while the varsity meet will be at Jersey Village.

    In addition, upgrades are being made at the 18 middle schools. Each will house a four-lane track, field event areas and practice football field with irrigation when completed, with the total phases valued at $20 million.

    “I think that’s going to be a gamechanger for us over the next five years,” Zepeda said. “The middle school package – because we’re doing all 18 middle schools – is going to roll out over an extended period of time. But it’s really going to be a gamechanger for our coaches.

    “Our ability to prepare kids, to teach them the fundamentals of not only the running events on the track – how to take a handoff with a true relay mark – but also what we can do field event-wise…is going to be exponentially improved.”

    Feedback from coaches and athletes has been positive, with many noting a more comfortable surface and less injuries.

    “For distance, we need the extra cushion,” Cypress Springs senior Monique Spruill said. “We run longer, so I really feel like I bounce more off of it versus the older track.”

    The data also shows the renovations have equaled better performances. Gibson, who’s Panthers won four consecutive Class 6A regional championships from 2014-2017, said many of her athletes posted their best times last season on the heels of Cypress Springs getting its new track.

    “Our times have actually dropped and I think you can see a correlation between improved facilities and improved performance,” Zepeda said. “Last year, we were dominant at our area track meet. We ran some of the best times that we’ve ever ran. We had more qualifiers going to the regional meet than we’ve ever had and we ended the year having three of our teams finish in the top 10 at the state meet.

    “The commitment that our school Board and our community made to our kids has really measurably improved not only our performance but also truly, the health of all of our athletes.”