Alabama State University (ASU) announced plans to renovate its athletics track at the Houston Markham Complex in Montgomery. ASU’s track and field program is one of the most prominent and successful in the nation.
“Track renovations are part of overall efforts to improve campus buildings and facilities,” said ASU President Quinton Ross Jr. “The track is one of a number of areas that fall into the category of deferred maintenance on ASU’s campus.”
Ritchie Beene, who is the head track and field/cross-country coach, has won 40 conference championships, including the past 11 outdoor championships on the women’s side and the 2019 men’s outdoor championship. Since 1976, Alabama State has captured 55 conference championships overall for the track program.
Beene has been the track and field/cross-country coach for 14 years and nearly 25 years overall at ASU. He was an assistant coach under the legendary Horace Crump for 11 years before taking over as head coach upon Crump’s retirement. The famed track is named after the former head track coach.
“The track has served the university well, but a quality, resurfaced track will beautify the campus,” said Beene. “ASU will have the opportunity to recruit student athletes and have them partake in something really special.”
Renovations will make it possible for ASU to participate in more competitions, camps and clinics.
Beene leads his student-athletes by example. He teaches them life skills around the track that will impact them not just for the four years on ASU’s campus, but the next 40 years of their lives and beyond.
“Being a track and field athlete brings you as close to real-life experiences as you can get,” said Beene. “The track will give them the ability to be the best they can be. I love my student-athletes and I want them to be resilient. I have tried to instill in them that life has choices. I want them to make the choice to give their very best at what they do in life. It is not about whether you win or lose, but at the end of the day, give it your all.”
Renovations will include upgrades to the 400-meter eight-lane track and an area for high jumping at the west end of the facility.
Beene credits his mentor coach Crump for success today. Crump, who coached for 31 seasons at ASU, was inducted into the Southwestern Athletic Conference Hall of Fame in 2009. He won 14 SWAC championships, with one each in the men’s indoor and outdoor and four each in the women’s cross-country, indoor and outdoor from 2001-2007. At least one of his teams won a conference title each of those years.
“I would not be where I am today if it wasn’t for coach Crump,” said Beene. “Because of his impeccable athletic and leadership skills, I am one of the winningest track and field coaches in SWAC and NCAA history. The wisdom he provided remains with me today. I have tried to pass on what he imparted in me and it is my hope that my students will also pay that same wisdom forward.”
The renovations of the track facility will provide an opportunity for Beene and his staff to continue to train at a high level and provide an opportunity to attract top talent from around the world.
“The student-athletes are also excited about the upcoming improvements and seeing the track and field program go to the next level,” Beene said.
ASU attracts Olympic-level athletes and coaches to work with the track and field program who can train youths and adults on every level.
“We have provided training for several student-athletes who have qualified for NCAA championships as well as provide training for professional athletes who went on to represent in the U.S. and other countries in the Olympics trials and Olympics,” said Beene. “We are also proud that we have had two Olympian volunteer coaches.”
The track renovations are expected to be completed in spring 2022.
For more information about ASU and the track and field/cross-country program, visit the website.