By David Fong
Regional Sports Editor
TROY — It started with the search for a T-shirt design.
It ended with an historic discovery.
“I was just doing the ‘spirit packs’ and was trying to figure out the first year Troy had track, so we could put something like, “Troy Track, Established in whatever’ on the shirts,” Troy girls track and field coach Kurt Snyder said. “(Former Troy track athlete and coach) Bob Campbell did some research and found the first Troy track meet was held in 1920, so we thought this would be the 100th year of Troy track.
“Then we found Troy had an athlete named William Jackson — who is actually the father-in-law of (Troy pole vault coach) Herb Hartman, who was a state runner-up in the discus in 1919. So we changed it to the 100th anniversary of Troy track. It was a simple enough change.”
The Troy track and field programs will spend the entire season celebrating the 100th anniversary of the program. The kickoff will begin at 10 a.m. Saturday as Troy hosts its first meet of the season, the Up and Running Invitational, at Troy Memorial Stadium. And and all former Troy track and field athletes are invited to attend the meet and be a part of the ceremonies. Alumni are requested to arrive between 9-9:30 a.m.
“It’s cool to be a part of it,” Snyder said of the 100th anniversary. “I know the kids are excited. I’m excited to see the alumni. If they come back, if they put forth the time and effort to come back here, it means they really enjoyed their time here and being a part of this team.”
Troy boys track and field coach Deon Metz has been a part of the Troy track and field program for the better part of 30 years, first as a junior high school and high school sprinter and long jumper. In 1998, he joined the program as an assistant coach under Campbell. Ten years ago, he became the boys team’s head coach.
“One-hundred years is a long time,” Metz said. “I think it’s pretty special to be a part of this. I’m excited, and I know the kids are, too. I think it’s going to be nice to see the alumni here, but even for the ones who can’t make it, we want them to know about it. We want them to know this is the 100th anniversary and have pride in a program that has had a lot of success over the years.”
It’s fitting that Hartman has a link to Jackson, Troy’s first state track and field placer. No one has contributed more to the program than Hartman, who — in addition to his four years on the team, during which time he set school records in the 880-yard run and 2-mile relay — has spent the past 52 years as a Troy track coach. He spent decades as a head coach and now serves as Troy’s pole vault coach.
Hartman said he’s thought of retiring before — but every time he thinks about it, he finds something pulling him back to the track.
“I keep finding another athlete who makes it worth staying,” he said. “It will be good to see some of my former athletes again. I’m looking forward to that. I knew my father-in-law graduated in 1919 and threw the discus, but he never told me he was a state runner-up.”
Contact David Fong at email@example.com; follow him on Twitter @thefong.