Holly Pond partners with high school to create 5k cross country course

Mar. 13—HOLLY POND — The town of Holly Pond has signed off on a partnership to create a 5k cross country course with Holly Pond High School.

At the March 4 Holly Pond Town Council meeting, HPHS Principal Nate Ayers said cross county is the only HPHS sports team without an on-campus facility where they are able to train. He said the team practices on the course at nearby Fairview High School, which has presented its own set of challenges.

"If Fairview is practicing when we get there, our kids will have to wait until they are finished because the two teams can't run on the same course at the same time. That would technically be considered a meet," Ayers said.

The course Ayers proposed would utilize much of the HPHS campus as well as the surrounding area, including property owned by the town. In exchange for the use of the town's property, he said the school would allow the on-campus sections of the course to remain open for public use during non school hours and the Cullman County Board of Education had already expressed willingness to sign a memorandum of understanding which would waive the town from liability.

Ayers said this proposal for a shared course would be mutually beneficial to students as well as the surrounding community.

He also said there would be no need for the town to contribute to the development of the course apart from the off-chance that a piece of heavy equipment is needed for larger issues. He said the bulk of work clearing and maintaining the course would be handled by the cross-country team themselves. This includes mowing and clearing the course of debris.

The only caveat for the town would be closure of the community park — where the town's baseball fields are located — during a cross country competition due to a section of the course including the park's only access point, Lions Park Road. Ayers said the park would not need to be closed during practices.

Because of the times meets typically occur, Ayers said there would be almost no chance of an event overlapping with youth baseball games held at the park.

Ayers said his goal was to have the course completed by this fall in hopes of hosting the school's first event during the upcoming season. He said there were only two locations capable of hosting a county-wide cross country tournament and his hope was that HPHS could become the third by the 2025 season.

The council unanimously agreed to the proposal.