New building, new hopes

Sunday, July 11, 2004

Saxony Lutheran High School could not have asked for a better start in its first year competing on the varsity level.

The cross country team finished fourth in the state, the basketball team posted a 17-6 record, and the track and field team had one relay and four individual entries at state.

With that momentum in hand, the Crusaders have a lot to look forward to this year, including a new home. St. Andrews Lutheran Church in Cape Girardeau served as a temporary facility this past year. Saxony Lutheran hopes to be in its new building, located off I-55 near Fruitland, by the second semester of the school year.

Tentative plans have November as a time for the transition to the new building with classes moving over for the second semester. Part of the new facility will be a new gymnasium that will seat slightly more than 1,000 people.

"We're hopeful the new facility will be open for our home opener on Saturday, Nov. 27," Saxony Lutheran basketball coach John Daniel said.

Last season the Crusaders were forced to line chairs around the court at St. Andrews, with standing room available above the court. The new gym will have seating all the way around the court.

"Certainly we're fortunate to have a nice gym St. Andrews let us use, but we weren't able to put many in seats," Daniel said. "I think our fans will enjoy the new facility."

Saxony will be the ability to host more games in front of those fans.

"These first two years, we've played by far the majority of our games on the road," Daniel said. "This year in fact, we'll have far more home games."

Saxony's cross country and track and field teams also will have a track to call their own. Last season, both teams were forced to run routes at the park, across the city and occasionally at another local school.

A new track surface could be in place by the spring, but it is not likely Saxony Lutheran will be able to gather all of the equipment necessary to host a track meet this season. The track, when completed, will surround a football/soccer field area. The new school will also have a baseball field.

"I would guess it would be pushing us to host any track meets in the spring," Saxony athletic director Larry Cleair said.

Along with the new facilities, the Crusaders will offer several new varsity sports as well. The volleyball program will have varsity and junior varsity teams in the fall after playing just junior varsity last season, and Saxony plans to put together its first baseball team.

Cleair said baseball is a near certainty to begin in the spring, following a positive response from the students.

"A lot of the incoming freshman are pretty excited about it, and some of the returning kids as well," Cleair said. "I think it will go."

There is a chance the school could field a softball team in the spring as well.

Cleair said he also expects within four to five years the school could add football or soccer to its athletics program.

"I'm hoping we can usher in some new sports," he said.

jjoffray@semissourian.com

335-6611, extension 171

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