POTTSTOWN — Once a member of The Hill School family, always a member. No matter how many decades later.
When The Hill desperately needed a new track, Kurt Hauser, who graduated half a century ago and had long since returned to his San Francisco Bay Area home, stepped up and provided most of the funding in honor of his late son and Hill graduate William West "Bill' Hauser ' 81.
That perfect new Hauser Track was christened Saturday with the 47th annual Hill Relays, always the Blues' first meet of the season. And even and brutal and harsh wind couldn't stop the standout performances or chase the fun away.
The Hill boys and girls teams both tied for first place, with the boys tying with Gilman School with 104 points and the girls tying Mercersburg Academy with 70 points.
The old Colbath Track across the street is history, with the new Hauser track at the Far Fields the future. After 28 years, the foundation of Colbath had become so damaged that the track could not properly be maintained. The jumping pits were far from ideal as well.
Bill Hauser arrived at The Hill as a third former in the fall of 1977. He soon became highly involved in school life and a popular member of the community and was a multi-year letter winner on the indoor and outdoor track teams. After graduating in ' 81, he returned to the West Coast and became a successful businessman.
Though Bill Hauser died in 2003 of cancer, at age 40, his memory will now live on at The Hill track and fields. And he surely was smiling down on the dedication Saturday.
"This school creates this dedication and love of it because it combines both athletics with academics and there is a family atmosphere here between the faculty and the students,' Kurt Hauser mused as he watched the hurdles being set up for the first relay.
And, of course, he had traveled here from California for this dedication. Besides, his two grandsons — Will Reynolds and and Phil Winnick — now attend The Hill.
"We have three generations of Hausers coming here,' Kurt Hauser said proudly. "I have two grandsons here and I have two additional grandsons that are younger, 11 and 12 years old, who came with me from California for this dedication. And they also, in the family tradition, want to come here for high school.'
Reynolds, a winter track runner, couldn't be on the track because he (like Winnick) is also a starter on the Blues boys lacrosse team and was playing on the other end of the Far Fields on the newly named Larry Price lacrosse field. So Kurt Hauser was a busy man watching both sides of those Far Fields.
The Hill track sure was worth watching, with many extended performances.
Blues track star Grant Smith, also a standout in football, had his usual great meet — winning the javelin with a 150-4, running on the winning 1,600 sprint medley relay, taking second in the long jump (20-10), and finishing third in the shot put (43-10).
Hill middle distance standout Braden Cordivari ran an amazing anchor leg on the to pull out the sprint medley relay victory. Trailing Blair by many meters, Smith had cut that distance down quite bit running third leg. But Cordivari left nothing in the tank to make up the remaining 30-or-so meters, shoot ahead, and hold off the field.
Cordivari also ran a fantastic anchor on the 4x400 relay, but with that shorter distance could not catch the Gilman or Bali anchors, with Hill finishing third.
Hill distance standout Luke Anderson also had a great day, anchoring the Blues to a second place finish in the distance medley, despite being bed-ridden all week with a stomach virus.
This seemed to be the day for the area runner, with Smith from Royersford, Cordivari from Elverson, and Anderson from Gilbertsville. Maybe because they had so much family here cheering.
Hill girls standout Monica Redfern, from Chicago, would have liked her family here, but had plenty of Hill coaches, teammates, and fans cheering her on as she ran a terrific anchor leg for the sprint medley that took second and anchored the distance medley that placed fourth with a great run. She also placed fourth in the javelin (61-10).
"This new track is so great. It's such and honor to run on this track,' Redfern said. "I've had a lot of injuries the past two years, so this track is really helping me to get back into things. It's very soft, perfect for running. This track is starting a whole new chapter in the Hill history. It's just great to be out here.'
Codivari was so thrilled after that sprint medley win, he didn't even feel the cold anymore.
"As soon as I got the baton I knew we were going to win it,' Codivari said. "I could just tell the other kids (on the other teams) were hurting and went for it. Coming in, I knew this was a race that we could win. And when it came down to the last 100, it was, ' there is no way I'm losing this.' "
And with that, Cordivari secured Hill's first win of the day.
"Oh, my God, this track is phenomenal.' he said. "It's like running on a sponge compared to what we were running on. You just sink in with every step. It feels so nice. It was cold earlier, but now that the sun is out, it's perfect weather.'
Easy for him to say, all hyped after that victory. But, really, the cold wind was still brutal out there.
Smith seemed to be immune to that cold too. But then, being a standout wide receiver, he is used to running in that cold wind.
"The first meet on this new track, it definitely means a lot,' Smith said. "We're very thankful for it. It's a lot faster, nice to run on. It means a lot to the community and the school. And it's not just the track, it will help with the techniques in the field events. It will make the meets so much more fun and make the team better.
"We have a bunch of good new guys that came out this year and that sprint medley was great to win. Pretty spectacular.'
Mostly because of Smith and Codivari.
"We all did it,' Smith quickly interrupted. "Of course, Braden is a wonderful distance runner and he really brought that one in for us.'
But the real highlight of his day was being on that new track.
"I know I won't be running on this track that much longer and they've go on and accomplish great thing here,' Smith said. "And as an athlete, I really appreciate that.'
Unable to get out of bed all week, Anderson was going to drag himself out for this one.
"It's just an awesome track,' Anderson said. "The weather is making it a little tough. And I've been in bed all week with a stomach bug, but I wanted to be out here today. I didn't want to not run. This meant too much to me.'
Hill veteran coach Bill Yinger seemed to be in seventh heaven being all over that new track. A former Hill track and field standout, Class of ' 95, and the main track coach for 11 years now, Yinger has been dreaming of a new track since he was running on the old one two decades ago.
"Today it's about everybody who came before us and everybody who is going to come after us,' Yinger said. "When you have the opportunity to build a facility like this, that's the way you need to be thinking.
"It's really easy to let your ego get in the way and do things that you want, and do for the kids what's best right this second. But the school has been around this long, this track is going to be around a lot longer than I'm going to be here. And that's a great thing.
"It's nice to have a lot of alums come back to watch the kids today, It's nice to see both teams (boys and girls) do as well as they can today. We threw the kitchen sink at everybody today.
"Sure it's cold. But I've been at this meet back in the day in the snow. It's always going to be a little cold in the beginning of April. The fact that it's cold and windy and people are still excited to be at the Hill Relays is a great thing.'
"Many donors have supported this new facility,' Hill athletic director Seth Eilberg pointed out. "But these individuals have provided extraordinary gifts to assure that William West Hauser '81 Track became a reality. They are: Mr. and Mrs. Kurt Hauser and the entire Hauser, Reynolds and Winnick families; Mr. Lewis Wiley; Mr. and Mrs. Briggs Cunningham; Mr. and Mrs. James Apple; Mr. and Mrs. Dan McMains; Mr. and Mrs. Patrick Madden.'
Follow Rosemarie Ross on Twitter at @RoseRoss31.