Synthetic turf is ready for some football

$2 million project was completed on time as part of Grafton High School athletic facility upgrades
Ozaukee Press staff

Excitement and anticipation are reaching a peak now that new synthetic turf has been installed on Grafton High School’s football field.

Coach Jim Norris, who has turned the football program into a regular playoff qualifier the past few years, already built enthusiasm with a midnight session on a nearby soccer field on the first day teams were allowed to practice.

The football team held its first practice on the new surface as early as Thursday, Aug. 11.

“It should be a very energetic night,” Norris said.

He’s not the only one thrilled with the project. Athletic Director and Assistant Principal Kevin Moore, who was on vacation up north last week, had his family stop at the field on the way home to see the progress.

“I’m obviously biased, but I think it looks really, really sharp,” he said.

“It looks like we hoped it would.”

The high school moved its graduation ceremony to an earlier date to allow construction to start sooner, and the weather cooperated over summer, Moore said. Work stayed on schedule and got done on time.

Midwest Sport and Turf Systems, based in Plainfield, Ill., installed the synthetic turf.

“The turf at Grafton High School is a state of the art turf system with lush fibers for the ultimate playability and safety. The turf provides an even playing surface without dips or divots,” Midwest Sport and Turf Systems Vice President of Sales Ryan Anderson said.

“We use American made tires for the crumb rubber infill.  We do not import our crumb rubber from overseas like some of our competitors.”

This is the second time the district is working with the company. Midwest Sport and Turf Systems installed synthetic turf at the infields of the baseball and softball diamonds at John Long Middle School in spring 2020.

“We established a deep level of trust with the administrators of Grafton schools after completing the baseball and softball jobs. We were their first call when it came time to turf Kellner Field,” Anderson said.

It has been easy to work with the district, he said.

“Working closely with the Grafton staff has been a dream. Supt. Jeff Nelson is a visionary. They have had a vision, and they are providing an elite facility for the students and community members. I’ve worked with many other schools that are still dreaming about something like what Grafton has done,” Anderson said.

“Kevin Moore will be a busy athletic director as the WIAA will be calling to schedule postseason events for years to come, which is a huge advantage for the Black Hawks.”

The project includes a new, eight-lane track. Asphalt has been laid and people may walk on it, Moore said, but it needs 30 days to cure before the track surface can be installed.

That is a 10-day process, Moore said, and road football games on Sept. 23 and 30 will allow for that work to be done without interference.

“Come springtime, everything should be ready to go,” Moore said.

Track and field coach Jason Meinen has also been following the project’s progress.

“I am definitely looking forward to a new track surface. The old one was pretty thin and kids noticed it and felt it (especially after a rain). We have dealt with a lot of lower leg injuries over the last couple of years. One can only wonder if the track had anything to do with it,” he said.

“New runways for long and triple jump will be nice as well. Our old ones were very narrow and the officials always had problems with kids putting marks on the runway.”

He hopes the new surface will boost interest in track and field and said it will be nice to showcase it during home meets.

The synthetic turf and track and field facility cost $1.968 million and is the second phase of the school’s athletic upgrades. The first, $672,000 phase covered perimeter fencing, entrances, a ticket booth, field events and  extended plaza.

The project got a huge shot in the arm with a $750,000 donation from alumnus Ted Kellner a couple of years ago.

The first time the new football surface is slated to be used is when Grafton hosts rival Port Washington for a nonconference game on Aug. 26.



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Ozaukee Press

Wisconsin’s largest paid circulation community weekly newspaper. Serving Port Washington, Saukville, Grafton, Fredonia, Belgium, as well as Ozaukee County government. Locally owned and printed in Port Washington, Wisconsin.

125 E. Main St.
Port Washington, WI 53074
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