Monke: Postponements making scheduling difficultThere hasn’t been a true blizzard in southwest North Dakota this winter, but that doesn’t mean high school activities directors and coaches haven’t been scrambling to reschedule numerous postponed games.
By: Dustin Monke, The Dickinson Press
There hasn’t been a true blizzard in southwest North Dakota this winter, but that doesn’t mean high school activities directors and coaches haven’t been scrambling to reschedule numerous postponed games.
Whether it’s because of snow, icy roads or 40-below wind chills, there have been several days since mid-December that schools have refused to put their student-athletes on the road and in harm’s way for the sake of athletic competition.
“Safety is first in our program,” Heart River boys basketball coach Greg Pruitt said. “We want all the kids and parents to be safe, but it’s just a fact that with road conditions and the every-day weather that we have, it’s put a lot of limitations to our games.”
But, safety is coming with a price.
The postponements are piling up and seasons are winding down.
Many teams are running out of time to fit in all the games and events they’ve had to move, along with those already scheduled.
And, not surprisingly, it doesn’t appear even close to being over.
The National Weather Service posted an alert Wednesday morning stating that an Alberta clipper system is expected to move into the area on Friday.
That means another weekend of high school activities could be lost, backing teams like Pruitt’s Cougars even further against the wall.
Heart River is scheduled to play four games in five days this week. If the weather allows, it will have the final three at home.
Wednesday was the Cougars’ only day without a game in the stretch that began Tuesday night with a physical 53-51 loss at New England. They host Grant County at 7:30 tonight in South Heart in a non-region game, are scheduled to stay at home for a 7 p.m. game against District 13 opponent Scranton on Friday in Belfield and then wake up Saturday and host Hettinger in another district game at 1:30 p.m. in South Heart.
Several teams are playing on back-to-back nights or trying to play three or four games a week for the remainder of the regular season as they try to squeeze in all of their scheduled games.
“You’ve got to pick and choose your poison,” Pruitt said. “You either get the games in, or you cancel them. And it’s the fact that right now, we need games.”
Dickinson gymnastics coach Kent Van Ells said his team has driven to distant meets despite some treacherous conditions. If the weather doesn’t turn out to be so bad on Saturday, the Midgets will host the Dickinson Invitational.
“We’ve been going despite other people not,” Van Ells said.
The coach, in his 27th season, added that he wouldn’t recommend it though.
The Dickinson boys hockey team has been somewhat immune to the rash of postponements and rescheduled games.
“Very lucky,” is how Midgets head coach Tom Folske puts it.
However, their only West Region postponement to date means the Midgets are scheduled to visit Minot High in a game that begins at 9 p.m. Central Time.
Because the KMOT Ag Expo is at the North Dakota State Fairgrounds and using the All-Seasons Arena where the Magicians normally play, the game had to be moved across town to the MAYSA Arena, where youth games and private functions were scheduled throughout the day.
The ice doesn’t even become available for the Midgets-Magicians game until 8:40 p.m. — that is, if everything ahead of the game goes according to schedule.
Nevertheless, if the weather cooperates and the Midgets make it to Minot, they won’t get on the road until sometime after 11 p.m. Mountain Time, at the earliest.
It doesn’t worry Folske though.
“Those boys don’t have any trouble sleeping on a bus,” he said with a laugh.
Monke is the Sports Editor of The Dickinson Press. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Read his blog at monke.areavoices.com.