MISSOULA – Missoula County Stadium went largely unchanged for its first 30-plus years, but it has undergone quite a facelift in the past year. The football field rolled out new turf, and now the track has a brand-new surface ready to run.

Weather and construction delays prevented the track from being ready for competition this spring. Local teams found other venues, and the scheduled state track meet was moved out of Missoula.

But now the high school coaches say MCPS boasts the best facility in the state. And they can’t wait to compete on it next spring.

“We’re in a stage and time where you need to make sure that facilities are safe and updated versus antiquated, which the facility before was kind of antiquated,” said Missoula Sentinel head track coach Craig Mettler. “Having this facility here is just going to benefit all the track athletes in Missoula, whether it’s middle school kids or high school kids. It’s going to be a great thing here next spring.”

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“It’s a big improvement,” added Missoula Big Sky head track coach Dan Nile. “We didn’t have a bad facility. It was a decent facility, but, boy, to be competitive anymore and to do things, you need to have good facilities. This is, I know, just the top of the line. Everybody wants to see it. The guy that painted the track told me that we have the nicest track this side of Oregon.”

The installation crew upgraded the track by spraying six separate layers to create the surface. Each layer needed to dry before the next could be added. And with a wet spring in Missoula, construction was often delayed.

The state-of-the-art track gives runners more bounce to their step and can create faster times. In 2016, Missoula County Stadium hosted 26 track meets, and that number might even go up in future years, with many interested in using the facility.