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Programs brace for late spring

Snow still coats the grass and part of the track at Jefferson High School in Alexandria on Wednesday morning. (Eric Morken/Echo Press)

The winter sports season that just passed didn’t do activities directors in the area any favors and the spring season is not providing much of a reprieve early on.

Alexandria Activities Director Dr. David Hartmann said this past winter was one of the most challenging winter seasons he can remember in terms of scheduling with so many snow storms postponing events on Tuesdays and Thursdays. Now he is preparing himself for what will likely be a late start to the spring season for sports like golf, baseball and softball.

“We start our baseball and softball next week and that’s really going to be a challenge, depending on what we get for weather this weekend,” Hartmann said on Tuesday afternoon. “Many years we are not able to start until mid-April. This might be a year where we have to wait for the third week and even the fourth week before we get going.”

A few early events have already been postponed. Alexandria was preparing to reschedule a tennis match that was set for last night, Thursday, while Osakis postponed an indoor track meet because of travel conditions on Tuesday. Brandon-Evansville baseball also rescheduled its season opener against Ottertail Central from April 1 to April 25.

Many of the spring sports are scheduled to get started next week. The chance of playing those outdoor events doesn’t look good, but a lot can change in a short period of time.

Mother Nature simply needs to cooperate with a few days above freezing. There isn’t as much snow on the ground as there was at this time last year, but a deep frost is expected after a cold winter.

“It’s a wait and see kind of thing,” Hartmann said. “The key always seems to be when it doesn’t freeze overnight. That’s when the melting really takes place. When it freezes every night, then we start all over again the next day.”

Many programs around the state that rely on outside venues have been forced to make do with practicing inside or on school parking lots. Golf programs in the area are fortunate to have the ability to hit balls onto the driving range from heated garages at the Scott Dirck Golf Academy at the Geneva Golf Club.

Like Alexandria, the Osakis track and the baseball and softball fields were still partially covered with snow as of early this week. Silverstreaks’ Activities Director Brad Hoffarth said they were holding out hope that those teams would be able to get outside by the middle of next week.

“But that will depend on what happens with the potential rain and snow forecast for this Thursday and Friday,” Hoffarth said on Tuesday. “We have discussed possible make-up dates with the schools that we are scheduled to compete against during the week of April 7-11. We will start officially rescheduling events once we know for sure that the weather won’t allow the events to take place.”

Brandon-Evansville Activities Director Tom Trisko said the snow has been blown off the Chargers’ softball field and that the team has been able to practice in the outfield. He also said the baseball field is not far away from being playable with a few consecutive days above freezing.

“If we would have decent weather this week, we would be able to play by the end of the week,” Trisko said on Monday. “The only problem is the frost coming out of the ground. I know it’s not out yet, so that usually takes a couple days to dry out with good weather.”

The warm weather didn’t come this week with highs in the 30s and more snow in the forecast through today. The extended forecast looked better next week with temperatures expected to reach the 50s. That could turn things around quickly and would be a welcome relief for athletes and coaches who are ready to get their seasons going.

Eric Morken

Eric Morken is the sports and outdoor editor at the Echo Press and Osakis Review newspapers in Douglas County, MN. Follow him on Twitter at echo_sports.

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