On Wednesday, April 15, it was announced that Wichita State University has received permission from the Board of Regents to raze the 74-year-old Cessna Stadium on the campus at Wichita State University. Originally built in 1946 as Veteran's Stadium, it was re-named Cessna Stadium in 1969 and the facility has hosted the KSHSAA State High School Track & Field Championships for all classes, both boys and girls, simultaneously since 1972 (with the exception of 1978 when certain classes were held at other locations). It also hosted multiple boys state championships in years prior to that, dating back almost to the original construction. While the track will remain, the stands will be torn down and the facility will be reconstructed as a modern multi-use facility. WSU athletic director Darron Boatright has been quoted as saying that WSU is committed to continuing to host the state meet. Both the deconstruction and construction are expected to happen in phases so as not to impact track seasons, and funds still need to raised.
With the state championships for all six classes for both boys and girls being held in Cessna at the same time with a total of 3,500 athletes, the Kansas state meet is the largest high school track and field meet in the U.S. The electric atmosphere of so many championship events being conducted simultaneously over the span of two days was described by one coach as "like watching the fourth quarter of the Super Bowl 150 times with a different outcome every time." While the facility was unquestionably outdated and in increasingly poor condition, generations of athletes, coaches, and fans have likely seen more state championships awarded in Cessna Stadium than all other sports and facilities combined.
So, we here at Kansas MileSplit would like to hear your memories of Cessna Stadium. Athletes, what was it like the first time you saw it and competed there? What are competitions you saw or were involved in that you'll never forget? Where was your team's "spot" on the walkways or in the stands? Coaches and parents, what are your memories of the state meet in Cessna? Email your memories to me at firstname.lastname@example.org and share some with everyone. With the current season cancelled, this is a great time to re-live some of those great memories of state meets past!