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Friday, November 28, 2014

Track and field: City councilor helped city acquire indoor track

sports@dailylobo.com
@JROppenheim

Brad Winter recalls watching high-level track and field athletes when he and his father attended Albuquerque Jaycee indoor meets in the 1970s, spurring a life-long interest in the sport.

His efforts have allowed the city to resume hosting top-notch track talent, including the upcoming NCAA Division I Indoor Track and Field National Championships on March 14-15.

As a 14-year city councilor for District 4, Winter helped Albuquerque purchase an indoor track in 2004. Since then, the Albuquerque Convention Center has hosted several meets including the Mountain West Conference Indoor Track and Field Championships and the USA Indoor Championships, which returned to Albuquerque Feb. 21-23.

Winter, himself a former prep and collegiate pole vaulter, said that when he first became a city councilor, he thought it would be nice to have indoor track return to Albuquerque. The city last held an indoor meet in 1987 at Tingley Coliseum, according to the UNM athletic department’s website.

In 2004, Winter said, a new track would have cost the city about $1.2 million, “which was a lot of money.” However, he continued, an unused Mondo track built for the Staples Center in Los Angeles was soon purchased by the city for $500,000 using general obligation bond funds.

“We set up it up that first year and started having meets,” Winter said. “It was a very, very fast track.”

Winter said he plans to attend the NCAA event as a spectator.

Winter started vaulting at an early age: he recalls his dad making a pole vault pit in his back yard with two-by-fours, and using bamboo rods as poles, he said.

He competed in the pole vault at the prep level, graduating from Highland High School in 1970. After some time at New Mexico Junior College, he said, he transferred to the University of Oklahoma, where he cleared 17 feet. He continued to vault after college, reaching a personal best of 17-1 at age 35.

After his time at Oklahoma, Winter returned to Albuquerque to pursue a doctorate in education from UNM. He works as the chief operations officer for Albuquerque Public Schools and continues to be involved in track and field, keeping up with the Lobos’ progress.