Horry County Schools studying “unsafe” tracks, tennis courts

Grand Strand

CONWAY, SC (WBTW) – Playing surfaces for tennis or track and field at some Horry County high schools may not be safe for competition.

The county’s school district is looking at the quality of tennis courts and running tracks on its nine campuses. On Monday, the facilities committee for Horry County Schools discussed a study looking at each school’s court or track.

Girls tennis practice has started for the Green Sea Floyds High School Trojans. Despite renovating the tennis courts about five years ago, some water damage is already under the players’ feet.

A piece of the resurfacing on one court is already loose enough that it can be pulled up by hand.

“We’re starting to hold water on the court and we’re receiving more cracks on the tennis court itself,” said Green Sea Floyds athletic director Jason Cox.

That changes where a tennis ball bounces, but can also make a court dangerous.

“If the cracks were to continue to get larger, you could have a kid trip on the crack,” Cox said.

Loris High School hasn’t held a track and field meet in about four years.

“Our track’s in rough shape,” said Loris athletic director Barry Brooks. “It’s been here a long time and it’s asphalt.”

Large cracks are on the running track with weeds growing through. The long jump and high jump areas are also cracked.

The asphalt surface also means Loris Lions track athletes can only wear special footwear at meets.

“It’s difficult to practice,” Brooks said. “We practice with tennis shoes because I’m afraid if we’re out here with spikes, with the cracks that we have in the track, it’s a dangerous situation.”

Green Sea Floyds and Loris aren’t alone.

HCS is looking at which tennis courts and tracks need renovations or even rebuilds. Roger Dixon, who’s the athletic assistant to the chief officer for support service, visited all nine high schools, taking pictures and studying the playing surfaces.

The tennis courts are also not suitable for play at Carolina Forest and Conway high schools, according to Dixon. Conway now practices and plays at the Riverfront Tennis Center.

Dixon says the tennis courts at Carolina Forest, Conway and Loris are at the highest priority for renovations. Green Sea Floyds was ranked fourth.

Dixon’s observations also ranked Aynor High School’s track third for needing renovations after Loris and Green Sea Floyds. Many of those track facilities also can’t host some field events. Dixon says rubber tracks would ideally cover asphalt ones.

The only high school in Horry County with a rubber track is Myrtle Beach High School, which was installed by the City of Myrtle Beach at Doug Shaw Memorial Stadium.

“We want to make sure that we have a good base for the product that we finish with,” Dixon said.

That would be welcomed at Loris, as well as Green Sea Floyds, which also has a track deemed unsafe for meets. That track also hasn’t hosted a competition in several years.

The 100-meter straightaway isn’t even completely flat, which is especially a problem for sprinters or distance runners ending a race.

“It’s a really wavy surface, and not only that, it’s a really rocky surface,” said Cox.

The HCS facilities committee is looking into surveying the soil under tracks and tennis courts. It also wants to check if the playing surfaces are level and if each track is exactly 400 meters.

That could cost about $100,000 to do at all nine high schools.

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