North Central College’s history continues to evolve. This week they will add another chapter when they unveil the track and field facility inside the new Res/Rec building.
“I came in the fall of 1966 and I thought Merner Field House was just the best I’d ever seen,” said Al Carius, cross country and track & field coach.
18 national titles later, the legendary coach is the best many people have ever seen.
That’s why the new track is named after him. The official indoor track is 60,000 square feet, and has six lanes. It will help develop runners for years to come.
“We have the athletes, but we have not had the tools that we need to build the kind of house we are capable of building and this certainly completes that task for us,” Carius said.
The task isn’t complete for North Central College. The $7 million project is more than halfway funded and the school believes in paying its way.
“You’re not spending tuition dollars, you’re not getting money from the government. It’s the alumni. It’s the people in the community, people that love the college,” said Rick Spencer, NCC Vice President of Institutional Advancement.
Project Manager Glenn Behnke oversaw the building process. His ties to Carius at North Central date back to the 1970s when he was a runner for the Cardinals. He’s a 1974 national champion in the six-mile race.
“When we dedicate this track, there will be 500 people back and its because of Al’s influence that changed their lives in so many ways,” Behnke said.
The Cardinals have four outdoor and one indoor national track and field titles, sweeping both in 1989. Coach Carius knows there more to it than winning championships.
“I feel the memories and relationships of all those people that have been here and a part of my life for the 44 years i’ve been at north central college and that is far more important this anything else,” Carius said.
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