The interior of Eagan High School just became a little more athlete friendly.
At the beginning of the fall sports season this year, school officials installed a 60-meter-long, rubber running surface—complete with lane lines and other track markings—in a hallway behind the high school's main office.
The hallway has long been occupied by gym students, athletes and participants in the school's conditioning programs, who use it as a venue for sprinting, hurdle jumping and other strength or agility exercises, according to Eagan High School Girls Track Coach Rob Graham.
Though the hallway was a helpful resource for students exercising indoors, the area had one significant drawback.
Instead of a softer running surface, students were working out on a hard cement floor with a thin veneer of carpet, Graham said. The unforgiving surface, Graham added, put students at a higher risk of injury or other sports-related complications.
"That extra quarter-inch of rubber distributes an awful lot of the collision," Graham said. "We wanted something that was going to help them stay safe, but give us an area that would help us in classroom athletics, just so the kids get more out of it."
Earlier this year, Graham and Ninth-Grade Football Coach Dave Christenson got approval from Eagan High School Athletic Director Sandy Setter and Principal Dr. Polly Reikowski for the improvement.
The track surface cost a total of $17,000 to purchase and install, Graham and Christenson said. The majority of that total was paid for through enrollment fees for the Eagan Sports Specific Speed and Strength program, also known as ES4. The school district also contributed $3,000 toward the cost of the running surface, Graham added.
Graham and Christenson worked with Apple Valley architect Paul Joran, who drew up designs for the track.
Christenson, who also helps coach varsity baseball and directs the school's ES4 program, expects the surface will have a lifespan of 15-20 years. Previously, some students had suffered rolled ankles or fractured feet because of the hard cement surface, Christenson said.
The track will also help the school keep pace with other area high schools that have installed a similar surface, Graham said.
“I think kids are going to get higher performance efforts and times," Graham said. "We think it was a good use of money that we had saved."