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AREA SPORTS: Cold, wet spring curtails local sports

Kaden Monette appreciates the fact that there are indoor facilities available in which Grand Forks Central’s baseball team is able to practice.

Still, the senior is getting tired of the Knights’ gymnasium every day.

“We still get our practice work done,” Monette said. “But it would be better if we were outside. It feels like baseball when you’re outside.

“I’m sick of the gym. I want to be outside.”

Monette isn’t alone. The cold, wet spring has curtailed activities in every sport throughout the area. Many practices have been limited to the indoors. A lot of events have been cancelled or postponed.

At Central, a batting cage is set up for the baseball and softball teams. Space is shared between those teams, as well as track and soccer teams.

“You have to be flexible,” Knights baseball coach Kyle Beckstead said. “And you have to be creative. We’ll play stickball games when it gets to be too much of a grind, when you can see that the kids just aren’t motivated. When you’re inside all the time, it’s tough to always stay interested.”

Beckstead said Central has only lost three games on its schedule due to the weather. But practices outdoors have been few and far between. While the gymnasium has the batting cage, indoor pitching mounds and space to take grounders, “it doesn’t do justice compared to being outside to practice and play,” Beckstead said.

That can be even more of a problem for track athletes.

While runners can get workouts indoors, Red River coach Bob Zimney said, javelin and discus throwers can’t. Red River has no indoor jumping pits for its triple and long jumpers.

Athletes’ performances “definitely have been impacted,” Zimney said. “It’s been too cold, too wet to be outside on the track very much. We’re not able to prepare like we’d like to be. We can still run indoors, but you’d like to be outdoors, on the track with spikes on.

“It’s very frustrating. You just keep plugging away.”

Grand Forks had to cancel its scheduled Sertoma track meet. Other meets have been postponed, thus limiting North Dakota athletes’ opportunities to qualify for the state track meet.

“Everybody in the east is in the same boat,” Zimney said.

That’s also the case in the west — as in western Minnesota. East Grand Forks Senior High athletic director Jim Scanlan said his master calendar is a mass of green marks, which indicate postponed or cancelled events.

“Its constantly trying to keep everybody — coaches, athletes, officials, umpires, bus drivers — aware of things,” Scanlan said. “It (the spring) is frustrating. But what can you do.

“I feel bad for the kids, especially the seniors, because we went through the same thing last spring.”

For coaches, this spring has been about trying to take advantage of whatever opportunities are there. For Senior High boys golf coach Jay Frydenlund, that resulted in a personal success — last Sunday, the 53-year-old hit the first hole-in-one of his career.

For his golfers, the spring has been one of hitting sponge golf balls into nets and getting on putting greens whenever possible. Some have found indoor facilities. As far as the outdoors, the Green Wave have been in one meet while four others have been cancelled.

“That’s typical of the start of every year,” Frydenlund said of practicing with sponge golf balls. “But that gets pretty old. We’ve only been on courses a few times.”

When it comes to weather and spring sports, “you get a curveball thrown at you,” Beckstead said. “But it’s something you come to expect up here.”