LA CROSSE, Wis. (WXOW) - This Friday and Saturday around 3,000 student athletes and 19,000 spectators will pour into Veterans Memorial Sports Complex at UW-La Crosse for the WIAA State Track and Field Meet. And days before the event, volunteers are hard at work preparing.
On Tuesday, volunteers set up mats and started moving around 50 sets of bleachers to accommodate the 22,000 thousand people expected to attend the event.
“They’re not light,” said Cy Badertscher, UW-La Crosse Track Athlete and Volunteer.
This year, 700 to 800 volunteers will work to make the event a success. Without their help, the competition could not happen in La Crosse.
“The WIAA, they take a net loss on this event each year,” said Josh Buchholtz, On-Site Coordinator for the WIAA State Track and Field Meet. “And so all the volunteers that we have are very vital to how this thing operates.”
Lucky for the WIAA, finding volunteers is not an issue.
“They sent out an email looking for volunteers,” said Badertscher, “and I know, I think it filled up in like four hours.”
Volunteers take care of everything from cleaning and setting up hurdles to working the gates and taking measurements during the meet.
“State Meet kind of takes over our whole week but we like it,” said Badertscher. “It’s probably our favorite time of the year when we’re not competing.”
“I think the biggest challenges we have are just coordinating all of the efforts,” said Buchholtz. “It’s a multifaceted event.”
But even with a good crew of volunteers Buchholtz say there will be plenty of hurtles during the event.
“We’ve got all kinds of hurdles that are going to come out here,” said Buccholtz. “So yeah, we’ll have hurdles. But we’ve going to make sure we go over them smoothly.”
Buccholtz said Tuesday and Wednesday are the busiest set-up days because UW-L has to be “meet-ready” by Thursday morning when it’s inspected by WIAA officials.