Westmont College will open its new state-of-the-art track and field/soccer complex at 10 a.m. Saturday with a ceremonial first lap, following speeches by President Gayle Beebe and former track coach Jim Klein.

The first competition on the synthetic, all-weather, 400-meter track will be a predict-your-time mile that’s open to the public.

Westmont then will host an official track-and-field meet with teams from Biola, George Fox and Fresno Pacific universities at 11 a.m. Saturday with field events. Running events will begin at noon.

Soil from the basements of the Adams Center for the Visual Arts and the Winter Hall for Science and Mathematics has been used to raise the elevation of the new track and soccer complex. Spectators can enjoy tiered, 4-foot-wide, landscaped seating terraces cut into the hillside above the track. There is also a restroom facility near the track, which includes track storage and a scorer’s area.

Track-and-field head coach Russell Smelley, in his 32nd year at Westmont, says the new track is exciting for the current team and will encourage recruits to choose Westmont.

“The facility will also be a draw for fitness running for the campus community,” he says. “It’s a beautiful and serene site.”

Smelley said he told recruits that the old dirt track was a great place to train, that the clay was good on the legs. He believed Westmont would get a new track eventually, but he made sure never to promise that a new track would be built while they were at the college.

Westmont junior Jacob Goodin from Olympia, Wash., competes in the 1500 and 5000, representing the quality of the men’s distance program. Westmont senior Brent Lagace of Arcadia and junior Andrew Kolodinski of Eagle Rock will be strong competitors in the javelin. Freshman Amanda Chevalier from Brea has quickly established herself as one of the finest sprinters to put on a Westmont uniform.

Klein, who coached at Westmont from 1960-1976, was a stellar collegiate and post-collegiate decathlete in the 1950s. Under his leadership, the Warriors defeated perennial District III powerhouse Occidental College and recorded dual meet victories against UCSB.

“Having the track is a blessing beyond compare,” Smelley says. “It was built sooner than I thought, and it’s more spectacular because the college committed to go beyond a small upgrade and did something top-notch all the way around.”

— Scott Craig is the media relations manager for Westmont College.