The student news site of Stillwater Area High School

Snowiest April ever delays spring sports season

May 10, 2018

Alternative Copy Story by Jesse Brown

The return from spring break signifies many things for students:  warmer weather, the beginning of the spring sports season, and dwindling days of the school year.

But this year, that has not been the case.  Winter weather has hung around the state for weeks longer than normal.  Multiple inches of snow fell in the first few days of April.  A blizzard hit the Twin Cities on April 14th.  It is now the snowiest April on record.

This weather has had a profound impact on almost every Ponies athletic team.  Athletic director Ricky Michel said the only sport not being affected is synchronized swimming.

Baseball has had six of their games postponed already, with more possibly on the horizon.  Even with the snow melting, the grass remains soaked.  Poor field conditions can lead to injuries when running and bad fielding.

The team is anxious, per coach Mike Parker.

“The guys have had good moral, but as coaches, we have to keep an eye on it,” he said.

Indoor practices are quite strange for a baseball team; it’s the sport that defines Spring and warmer weather.  But practices inside the PAC haven’t drastically alerted much.  The impact will be felt once the season actually begins.

“Our outfielders haven’t really been able to practice, but the rest of it has been fine,” said Parker.

The impact will be felt once the season actually begins.  With six games already postponed, the team could be looking at a grueling May schedule.  Double-headers and three games in three days will be a common occurrence.  Due to arm fatigue and the prevention of devastating elbow injuries, pitchers aren’t able to throw every day.  If games are played every day, then the team needs many pitchers.

The graph above shows how the snowfall total the past two months compares to normal years.

“We are getting a lot of pitchers ready for varsity.  We will need 8-10 pitchers.  Usually we have 4-5,” said Parker.

Parker also mentioned that outfielders are the most impacted.  Hitting baseballs 200 feet plus isn’t possible in the PAC gyms.

Softball is experiencing similar delays and effects.

“We haven’t been able to get outside and get those ground balls and pop flies,” senior Tatiana Tabucol said.

Softball occasionally practices inside.  Their batting cages are in the wrestling gyms, so a lot of hitting drills are done in there.

“It’s not that big of a deal, but it would be nice to get outside and get used to the weather,” Tabucol followed up.  Space is also an issue, like baseball.  The spacious fields behind the building allow the girls to practice their cutoffs and outfield throws.  Practicing in the wrestling and PAC gyms doesn’t allow for balls to hit very far.

Lacrosse has also felt the brunt of the impact.  The boys team has been practicing in the St. Croix Valley Recreation Center from 5:30 a.m. to 7 a.m. Monday through Friday.  With the PAC overbooked and the team needing a large grass surface, it was the only option they had.  Their season starts later than other spring sports though, so only two games were cancelled.  One has already been made up, and resulted in a 14-4 Ponies win against Lakeville South.

Like baseball, girls and boys track and field has experienced massive delays to the beginning of their season.  The girls have had three meets cancelled and two postponed.  The boys have been able to squeeze four meets in, but at least two have been cancelled, and practice remains a struggle for space.

Long distance runners have a benefit, though.  As long as the streets are clear, they are a go.  Long distances’ practice consists of running the streets around the school.  As long no heavy precipitation is falling and the roads are clear, they are able practice.

The biggest issue with the PAC is that, because the turns are so sharp, you really can only run in that straight line, so we can only get like 40 meter sprints maximum.”

— Charlie Richman

But for sprinters and field participants, it’s a different story.  The PAC provides a unique advantage over other schools in the area, sure, but it’s still a determent to the team.

“The biggest issue with the PAC is that, because the turns are so sharp, you really can only run in that straight line, so we can only get like 40 meter sprints maximum,” senior Charlie Richman said.

Most short distance sprints are 100 to 200 meters long.

“We can’t really fully open our strides and work on a speed/endurance deal.  We can only get short-bursts,” Richman explained.

Sprinters also aren’t allowed to wear spikes on the track that loops around the PAC’s basketball court.  This means that the jump, the critical start to any track and field race, is not able to practiced correctly right now.

Richman downplayed its importance, though.  Before meets, the team has gone off to the side and practiced their jumps.

“For a guy that’s been there for a long time like me, I know how to use the blocks,” Richman said.  “It hurts more the younger guys and the new guys, who have no clue what they’re doing with them.”

Boys and girls golf have also been forced inside.  The boys golf team held their tryouts on the simulators at Stillwater Bowl, and had to spend large amounts of money to rent them out for practice time.

“It’s a little different, but it’s still good to be swinging the club,” senior Max Langmack said.  Langmack simplified the simulator experience, mentioning how important it is to just hit the ball while the weather is bad.

Like most sports, golf is preparing for a busy May schedule.  This, according to Langmack, will be the biggest impact the weather has on the season.

“There’s probably gonna be weeks where we’ll be missing more than three or four days of school for tournaments,” Langmack said.

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