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Extended winter weather hindering spring sports schedules

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The late spring weather conditions are hindering many area businesses from landscapers to dock service providers to golf courses.

The cold and snow from the extended winter are also hindering outside practice and games for area high school and junior high school spring sports teams. Pequot Lakes High School had already postponed or canceled 27 events through Friday, April 19, said activities director Marc Helmrichs.

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“It’s shaping up to be one of the worst years, but my first year here (seven years ago) I did change 65 events during the spring season,” Helmrichs said Thursday, April 11. “With no 40-degree temperatures in the 10-day forecast, I really don’t see any light at the end of the tunnel.”

The melting of snow cover in the lakes area had been slow this spring, especially in shaded areas. But then 8-12 inches of snow fell in the past week in the area to further delay outside activities.

“We already had eight inches of snow on the (baseball and softball) fields before the snow,” Helmrichs said. “So obviously (the recent snow) hurt. But all the area schools are in the same boat.”

Helmrichs, who has already rescheduled some of the postponed games, has been in contact with many other activity directors.

“We’re asking each other for advice,” he said. “We’re talking about canceling non-conference games to play the (Mid-State) conference games. There has also been discussion about possibly having events on Wednesdays (a Minnesota State High School League restriction).”

The sports schedules will be busy once outside conditions are suitable for games.

“We will need a lot of pitchers once we start because we will have a lot of games,” said Pequot Lakes varsity baseball coach Kyle Spray. “Our pitching arms should be better (with the delay) because they will have four or five weeks of practice to get ready instead of just two weeks.”

Spray added that although his players want to get outside, they have remained busy with inside practices.

“The kids still have a good attitude,” he said. “We have plenty to do inside. We hit every day in the batting cages, and we work on game strategies.”

On Monday, April 15, the Minnesota State High School League (MSHSL) issued a media release to offer suggestions to schools around the state. Dave Stead, MSHSL executive director, did say that extending state tournament dates was not likely because of the number of changes required to move subsection, section and state tournament sites.

Stead did make a number of suggestions in his letter, like switching some golf tournaments to nine-hole events and adding more teams. He also recommended maximizing the use of Saturdays for events, and switching makeup games to doubleheaders. Stead also suggested that some schools sacrifice some home games to play at a field that is ready for action once the conditions improve.

Despite the frustration with the conditions, Helmrichs said  everyone from coaches to players has kept a good attitude.

“What can you do?” he said. “It’s been difficult for all the athletes, certainly the seniors because they all want to get out and compete.”

The Patriots’ track and field team did add an indoor meet in Bemidji on Thursday, April 11, and also added the Beaver Relays on Friday, April 19, in Bemidji.

It’s uncertain when the track athletes, along with baseball, softball and golf, will debut with outside games.

But one thing is certain – they will be ready.

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Denton (Denny) Newman Jr.
I've worked at the Brainerd Dispatch with various duties since Dec. 7, 1983. Starting off as an Ad Designer and currently Director of Audience Development. The Dispatch has been an interesting and challenging place to work. I'm fortunate to have made many friends, both co-workers and customers.
(218) 855-5889
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