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Weather doesn't slow Grand Forks tourney

Fierce winds, rain and cool temperatures kept people from mingling around Ulland Park on Saturday afternoon. The annual July Classic men's and women's softball tournament, however, went on as planned. Forty-seven teams -- 36 men's and 11 women's ...

Fierce winds, rain and cool temperatures kept people from mingling around Ulland Park on Saturday afternoon.

The annual July Classic men's and women's softball tournament, however, went on as planned.

Forty-seven teams -- 36 men's and 11 women's --participated during the first day of the tournament at Ulland Park in Grand Forks. The four-game guarantee and round-robin event began at 8 a.m. and concluded, as planned, at about 5 p.m., despite the wet and windy conditions.

It continues at 8 a.m. today and will finish in the afternoon.

"We've got some pretty good teams," tournament organizer Darryl Marek said. "There's a Junior Olympic champion team from South Dakota in the women's division. There's a men's team from the Winnipeg area that travels around quite a bit, too."

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The tournament is a World Softball League qualifier, meaning teams can get points if they want to earn berths in national WSL events. That's one way organizers are trying to draw teams to the event.

Fargo, Brainerd and Moorhead also have held WSL-affiliated events this spring and summer.

Organizers through the years also have switched the date a few times in trying to maximize the number of participants.

"We've been doing this for about seven years now," Marek said. "The first few years, we had between 50 and 60 teams sign up. We did see a drop a couple of years after that because we moved the date. There were some other tournaments in the area that teams were going to. Last year we had 37 teams in it. This year, we're right around 50."

The tournament isn't just for teams and players interested in the World Softball League. In addition to men's Class C and D divisions, there are also slots for Rec I, II, III and IV. For women, there is Class D, Rec I, Rec II and Rec III.

The wide range of participants is because tournament officials have one big goal.

"We want to make this a big deal in the future," Marek said.

Reach Schlossman at (701) 780-1129; (800) 477-6572, ext. 129; or send e-mail to bschlossman@

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gfherald.com.

Schlossman has covered college hockey for the Grand Forks Herald since 2005. He has been recognized by the Associated Press Sports Editors as the top beat writer for the Herald's circulation division four times and the North Dakota sportswriter of the year once. He resides in Grand Forks. Reach him at bschlossman@gfherald.com.
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