BECKER – This opening week of April has been highly interesting. I’ve been looking at online conference calendars and finding red lines through a whole bunch of events, signifying postponements and cancellations due to the rotten weather that has camped out in Minnesota.
There has been plenty of time to look at those calendars because of the lack of outdoor events. I spent Monday at the Metrodome watching baseball and Wednesday at the West St. Paul Regional Athletics Center watching softball under a smaller inflatable roof. On Thursday I ventured to the fieldhouse at Becker High School to complete my indoor trifecta at the Granite Ridge Conference indoor track meet.
The marquee athlete at the meet was Foley senior Charlie Lawrence, the defending Class 1A state champion in the 3,200 meters. And what do you know … he has been hobbling around after a hip injury caused by slipping on ice. That’s somehow fitting during this spring of cold temperatures and frozen footing.
Thankfully, Charlie told me, his mishap took place in late February even before the start of team practices.
“I’ve been recovering from that, going to physical therapy four or five days a week,” said Lawrence, who won the 800 and 1,600 Thursday. “It got pretty bad at one point to where I couldn’t even run. … I’m not 100 percent now but I’m feeling good and I’ve been doing some decent workouts.”
The Becker fieldhouse has five lanes that circle the building and seven lanes on the main straightaway for sprints and hurdles. It was cramped Thursday, with shot putters throwing specialized indoor implements on one end, pole vaulters and high jumpers on the other end and long and triple jumpers dashing alongside a wall and leaping into a sand landing area in a cramped corner. Anybody wanting to throw a discus was on their own to step outside and try to find a dry landing zone.
One lap of the track equals 200 meters, so the track is half the size of an outside track. The 1,600, therefore, was eight laps instead of the usual four. Teams camped out in the nearby gymnastics room. Little Falls won the boys team title and Zimmerman was the girls’ champion.
The meet came during the annual convention of Minnesota's athletic directors in St. Cloud. On Wednesday, the Granite Ridge ADs met to discuss the scheduling issues that this spring presents.
‘It’s been kind of frustrating,” said Foley AD Michael Johnson. “We’re trying to come up with alternative schedules and work together. It’s a struggle but you work hard and try to come up with a plan and do what’s best for the kids. That’s all you can do.”
Johnson has been the Foley athletic director for four years and until this year the Falcons have played every baseball and softball game on their schedules.
“We got really spoiled. Last year we were lucky,” he said. “This is my first experience where we probably will lose some non-conference softball and baseball games and doing a lot more doubleheaders than we probably want to.”
The Falcons also have a fieldhouse for teams to use as practice sites. That’s a good thing because so far the only Foley athletes who have been outside are the distance runners on the track teams.
The situation is similar at Mora, where the distance specialists have been outdoors while everyone else is in the gym.
"Since day one I’ve told the distance kids we were going outside regardless of the weather,” said Chris Goebel, who coaches the Mora distance runners. “They know that and they’re prepared for that. Our sprinters, on the other hand, they have to spend a lot of time in our gym.
“We looked yesterday; half of our track is cleared off and the other half still had snow on it. The track is going to be cleared off long before jumpers can do anything, that’s for sure.”
Warmer weather will arrive eventually – knock on wood – but spring sports in 2013 will surely be remembered for a late start, a compacted season and lots of challenges.
“I went to the Twins game Monday with my kids,” Johnson said, “and it was hard driving back from the cities, where there is no snow, and heading north where we have more and more snow. But we’re better off than a lot of places up north, so we’re lucky.”
--To see a photo gallery from the track meet, go the MSHSL Facebook page.
BY THE NUMBERS
*Schools/teams John has visited: 566
*Miles John has driven in the Toyota Camry: 7,966
(*During the 2012-13 school year)