Although its season doesn’t arrive until next spring, Benton High School track and field has been busy.

The track facility received a makeover recently, with a new and improved surface, new long jump and triple jump pits and a fresh paint job.

“Our downtown leadership recognized that we needed updated facilities,” Benton head track and field coach Brad Hankins said. “They were gracious enough to hear some plans and proposals at Benton that we put together... and they came through for us in a big time way.”

Benton junior Kason Mauzey, who competes for both the track and basketball teams, saw the updates to the track on social media.

“It looks so much better than last year. I know last year everyone talked about needing a new track because there were so many bumps and stuff in a couple places, and our sandpits weren’t very good, so it’ll be good to see it in person once I get over there to look at it,” Mauzey said.

Hankins added, “I don’t think a ton of kids have been up to see it, although I did get quite a few high fives and fist bumps from kids today that said they saw it on social media, so that was nice.”

Now in Phase II of the school district’s re-entry to summer athletics plan, the Cardinals returned to training in the weight room this week.

“It’s definitely different,” Mauzey said. “A lot of things have changed and now that we’re in the weight room it’s better, and it’s a lot easier to put work in than just being outside. So now we can do more workouts and have more groups.”

“I think the coaches have done a really good job outlining and following procedures and getting kids to where they need to be, but they’re also letting them be kids and this is the summertime and the kids deserve a break when that time comes,” Hankins said. “The kids that want to be there are there, and there’s a good group of them. They’re being leaders and they’re getting better.”

Hankins sees most of his athletes showing up for the strength and conditioning programs, including Mauzey, who is one of many on the track and field team taking part in more than one sport at Benton.

After the high school spring sports season was shortened this year due to COVID-19, Hankins is excited to see student-athletes hit the ground running in any sport.

“At Benton we do a great job of sharing athletes. Even during seasons, we share kids as well. Everybody is in the same boat. Everybody is rowing in the same direction,” Hankins said. “I’m ready for those kids that didn’t have a spring sport to be able to compete in the fall and then still looking forward towards the track season.”

As the beginning of fall sports looms about a month away with practices slated to start August 10, the Cardinals are taking advantage of the present.

“Everyone is happy to be back and everyone is happy to be around each other again,” Mauzey said. “I missed it a bunch because I didn’t get to see that many people, so just being around others and just getting better every single day, that’s what I’m most excited about.”

“We’re all trying to work for the common goal to get better, get everybody else better and we’ve been injury free. Until somebody tells us otherwise, we’re gearing up for fall sports and a full schedule this fall as well,” Hankins said.

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Micaela Dea is a sports reporter for News-Press NOW. She graduated from the University of Missouri School of Journalism. Growing up in San Diego, Micaela loves to travel, meet new people, and tell stories. Have a story idea? Don't hesitate to email!