The ‘Burg gets new track

By Randy Lefko Sports Editor
Posted 3/30/22

MIDDLEBURG - Former Middleburg High track coach April Martin, with husband Craig, spent nearly a decade raising money with a goal of a state of the art track facility at their home school at the …

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The ‘Burg gets new track

Posted

MIDDLEBURG - Former Middleburg High track coach April Martin, with husband Craig, spent nearly a decade raising money with a goal of a state of the art track facility at their home school at the time.

Nearly 10 years later, with both now teaching at Orange Park High School and Craig Martin coaching track for the Raiders, April Martin was invited to commemorate the opening of a brand new rubberized 8-lane track at Middleburg High School in a Friday morning ceremony on the track.

“We had lots of biscuit sales and shirt sales to raise the little bit of money at the time that we hoped would get the rubberized track here,” said Martin, who, in the same 10 year span, created her own family along the way with six kids popping in from foster parenting avenues. “It’s a kind of dream come true to be able to stand here on a brand new track and see brand new equipment being set up around the field.”

Martin, noting Craig Martin was not able to attend the ceremony, was joined in the Friday awards, which were to be ushering in a Bronco Bob track meet later in the day that the Middleburg High team gloriously won the team title to, by Middleburg High Athletic Director Jay Stilianou and Middleburg Vice Principal Justin Williams, both key “pushers” of the pencils to finish the project.

“I had little to do with getting the paperwork signed and contracts done; the Martins got the ball rolling and vice principal Justin Williams was kind of the focal point,” said Stilianou. “We got the track, a new rubber platform for the high jump and pole vaults, a new long jump and triple jump facility that is away from the fence in the back.”

Stilianou has injected his own high-energy approach to athletics in his short tenure at Middleburg as he did at his previous gig at Clay High.

“I believe a strong athletic program builds the men and women of tomorrow and this project came with a lot of teamwork, hard work and plenty of inspiration,” said Stilianou. “When I got here, I heard about the efforts of the Martins to keep the dream rolling and then saw Mr. Williams keep the ball in play. A lot of people played a part in getting this done.”

Williams noted that the obstacles in keeping the ball rolling included funding, COVID and weather.

“This project started out in 2019 as a $100,000 project that grew to just about $500,000 and a lot of rain,” said Williams. “The COVID stuff delayed a lot of time, the rain was here as Florida is and the construction had to basically get the entire old track and foundation out to do this right. Lots of long days and nights.”

Williams noted the foundation was finished in August 2021 and had to let the cement cure.

“The biggest hiccup along the entire process was the weather,” said Williams. “There were periods of weeks where the rain prevented any progress.”

The Middleburg track follows the Orange Park track which was rebuilt after a hurricane turned the track upside down and created the opportunity to start the Orange Park project.

According to Clay County Superintendent David Broskie, the next track rebuild is tentatively set for Keystone Heights High School.

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