Gallery: Rebels welcome new athletic facilities
Published 9:56 am Thursday, September 4, 2014
WELLS — When United South Central athletic director Sue Summer entered the new high school gymnasium to help volleyball team set up its nets for the first time, she could feel the excitement.
“It was so cool to see their eyes get big,” she said. “The venue is really amazing.”
The high school gym — with its two regulation-size courts — was part of the 67-acre construction project, which features new baseball and softball fields, an elementary school basketball gym with a regulation-size court, eight tennis courts, a football stadium, wrestling and weight rooms and a track.
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USC voters in August 2012 approved the issuance of $28.825 million in bonds to fund the new school, to purchase land and for related financing costs. The school building cost about $24 million.
USC’s volleyball team played in the gym Tuesday in its home opener against Janesville-Waldorf-Pemberton. The Rebels were led by Anissa Janzig, who had 15 kills and eight digs, but the Bulldogs won 3-1. The Rebels will look for their first win in the new gym at 7:15 p.m. today against Maple River.
Climate control was a welcome upgrade from the old gym.
“Usually the first (volleyball) game we’d just be dying because it was so hot,” Summer said. “We’d have to use the big barn fans to move the air.”
Space in the rafters is utilized in both gyms.
The rafters in the high school gym house two 4,000-pound 42-by-42-foot wrestling mats that will be in addition to the mats in the wrestling room, so they will not need to be moved from room to room for meets.
From the ceiling of the elementary school gym is a batting cage. Summer, who also coaches the softball team, said using it will be an advantage in the winter and early in the spring when snow is on the ground. In the past, the Rebels rented a cage.
“It’ll be nice that I can bring hitters in because we have a cage,” Summer said. “I won’t have to borrow or try to find a place to try to do that. It just lowers and and goes back up smooth and easy.”
One of the largest structures on the facility is the stadium, which will be used for track meets and football. Summer said she anticipates the track and field-event areas will be ready to use this spring.
The 840 seats from the Metrodome have not been installed at the stadium, but most of the concrete work is finished. Rick Walechka, Travis Lupke and Garrett Kelly from Javens Electric in Mankato were working on electrical wiring Wednesday at the base of the stadium. The Rebels are scheduled to host a track invitational at 4:30 p.m. April 13 and the Gopher Conference Meet at 4:30 p.m. May 12.
While the track is scheduled to be ready this season, USC’s football team won’t step on the field for another two to three years. Summer said the school weighed the options of getting field turf, sod or seeding it in.
“We’re seeding it,” she said. “You’ve got to be careful because you’ve got to wait for the grass to get rooted.”
The tennis courts were improved from the old six-court setup to eight courts.
“This way, the whole varsity team can play at once,” Summer said. “We wanted to do it right.”
Jesse Langmade of Upper Midwest Athletic Construction in Anoka said the courts take six business days to paint, and they will be ready on Friday.
“We tape it off and then use a roller to finish painting it,” he said. “We do about 150 courts a year and then do repairs on them after a few years.”
USC’s girls’ tennis team will take the courts for the first time at 9 a.m. Saturday in a triangular against Austin and Maple River.
The wrestling and weight rooms will be ready this year, but the baseball and softball teams are set to play at the Wells city fields for another year.
Along with the students, USC’s staff highly anticipated the start of the school year,” Summer said.
“Many students could not wait until school started this year just to be in the new building, and the staff is very excited about the new building even though the move has been a lot of work,” she said. “We are all very proud of what we have.”