Liberty celebrates grand opening of new indoor track complex

By Brie Jackson - Weekend Anchor / Reporter
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LYNCHBURG (WSLS 10) - Before the third annual Darius Dixon Memorial Invitational, Liberty University celebrated the grand opening of the new, 169,000-square-foot Liberty Indoor Track Complex on Saturday.

President Jerry Falwell, Director of Athletics Ian McCaw, Track & Field Head Coach Brant Tolsma, former Flames Track & Field coach Jake Matthes, City of Lynchburg Mayor Joan Foster, Congressman Bob Goodlatte, and Lynchburg Regional Business Alliance CEO Megan Lucas attended the ribbon-cutting ceremony.

"The new complex is going to be a great asset to the community as well to Liberty University," Falwell said. "We are so thankful and blessed to be opening this facility officially today. We look forward to all the high school meets this will bring to Lynchburg and seeing how this could help our track team improve with the best facility."

Falwell talked about Tolsma's vision for Liberty's track & field program, saying his persistence is part of the reason they were standing in the new building.

McCaw also addressed the crowd.

"This is an incredible facility," he said. "Truly one of, if not, the finest in the country."

Tolsma thanked Matthes for inviting him to help coach the program years ago and also thanked Falwell for entrusting the program with a tremendous gift.

"I have not yet been able to drive down Liberty Mountain Drive or to walk into this building or to look at this track without marveling," Tolsma said. "I feel overwhelmed with gratitude."

He said he was honored to be part of a team that has the greatest mission of any track & field program in the world.

"Track & field is a celebration of our ability to move," Tolsma said. "What better way to celebrate it than to do it for the Giver of Life. That is our privilege at Liberty University."

Matthes took time to reflect on the program's 40-year history during his closing prayer. He said the team would practice at local high schools and Lynchburg City Stadium long before they had their own home.

The new state-of-the-art, nearly $30 million complex, sits underneath the LU monogram on Liberty Mountain.

The complex features a hydraulically banked 200-meter oval track, one of only a few in the country. All six field events can be hosted within the complex, with the weight throw, shot put, and high jump pits located outside the track oval, and the pole vault, long jump, and triple jump runways located inside.

The second-floor mezzanine area is large enough to hold nearly 1,500 spectators, with the capacity to hold more than 2,500 when track-level portable bleachers are added. The complex is large enough for a maximum occupancy of 5,000, including more than 3,000 athletes.

The first invitational held at the new facility was the Virginia Showcase, which was hosted Jan. 16 and 17. More than 3,000 high school athletes competed, with two national high school records set on the track.

For grand opening weekend, Liberty squared off against Big South Conference foes Gardner-Webb, High Point, Radford and UNC Asheville, among a total of 22 colleges and universities. For continuous coverage of the meet, visit Liberty.edu/Athletics.

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