To the Editor:
As a graduate of Philomath High School, imagine how proud I was when my late father, Paul Mariman, was honored as a PHS coaching “Legend” in 2018; he was honored again this past May, when he was inducted into the PHS “Hall of Fame.”
A beloved cross-country coach who led PHS athletes to multiple top-four state titles, in the late ’70s he single-handedly began building a beautiful course, part of which ran through what would become Downing Forest. Runners from around the state have competed on this course for the past 36 years in what began as the Timbertown Invitational. It was renamed in honor of Dad in 1997.
Adjacent to the high school, Downing Research Forest was a valuable teaching resource for the PHS forestry classes. I say “was” because last week it was deemed unsafe and basically clear-cut; the timber was harvested hastily, leaving a debris-filled wasteland where the cross-county course had been.
Current coach Joe Fulton now has nowhere to train his runners; and although teams have already begun signing up for the Paul Mariman Invitational, it’s doubtful any kind of safe course can be salvaged from the wreckage of Downing Forest in time for the October meet. Joe Fulton has been a faithful steward of the course these past several decades, maintaining it as Paul had, on his own time and dime. The PHS forestry department will undoubtedly replant the site and make it once again a viable timber stand and resource for students, but that will take time.
Can you imagine the uproar if the football field had been torn up two weeks before the start of the season? I urge the community to support the PHS cross-country team in doing whatever they can to salvage their season and especially to find a way to host the Invitational in October once again. This meet brings 1,000-plus runners and their families to Philomath each year; I urge you to show them how much you support your student athletes by encouraging the school district to devote the dollars needed to secure a suitable alternate site and provide infrastructure, transportation, etc. for training and for the invitational in October.
Please consider attending the next School Board meeting (7 p.m., Thursday, Aug. 17 at 1620 Applegate St.) and make your voice heard in support of your student athletes and your town.
Santa Fe, N.M.