Snow still covers the baseball fields at Northfield High School on Thursday. Spring sports participants want to avoid a slow start to the season, which was the case last season. (Nick Gerhardt/Northfield News)
Softball field puddle
Puddles still stood on the Northfield High School softball field on Thursday as the weather grew warmer. Northfield athletes and coaches would not like a repeat of last spring’s weather, which delayed the start of the season close to a month. (Nick Gerhardt/Northfield News)
NHS Spring Sports
Here are the spring sports that could be affected by weather and ground conditions:
• Boys golf
• Girls golf
• Boys lacrosse
• Girls lacrosse
• Boys track and field
• Girls track and field
• Boys tennis
“Hopefully it will be better than last year. I’ll do whatever I need to do to get it done for our kids and coaches.”
NHS Activities Director Tom Graupmann
Posted: Friday, March 21, 2014 1:00 pm
Updated: 9:29 pm, Fri Mar 21, 2014.
Northfield players, coaches and officials hope they will not see a repeat of last spring when the sports season begins this year. But that will all depend on Mother Nature.
Schools postponed several games last season − as long as a month for some sports − and dealt with a compacted schedule because the weather didn’t cooperate. With snow still on the ground this late into March, there’s a feeling the same might happen again this year.
Last season, the Missota Conference took action by making baseball and softball matchups doubleheaders on the scheduled second meeting between conference opponents, Northfield Activities Director Tom Graupmann said.
“Hopefully it will be better than last year,” Graupmann said. “Everyone wanted to get out and play. I’ll do whatever I need to do to get it done for our kids and coaches.”
Northfield recorded 6.8 inches of snow on May 2 last year, according to National Weather Service. More than 50 athletic events were cancelled or postponed as of May 3 last year.
The biggest concern facing the Northfield grounds crew is the level of frost it has to contend with before allowing players and coaches on to the fields.
“Once the frost goes away they turn green pretty quick,” Northfield’s head groundskeeper, Tracy Closson said.
Closson predicts there’s a deeper frost line this season due to the higher number of cold days the area had during the winter.
Once the frost recedes, getting the fields ready doesn’t take much special care. The grounds crew will take precautions with hand-dragging fields, instead of using ATVs, to prevent any potential damage, Closson said. Most of the times, the fields can be ready in a couple of hours, Closson said.
The loss of time outdoors for teams creates a crunch for time and space inside school gymnasiums. For the golf programs, it meant more time hitting off mats with limited time for both the boys and girls programs.
“It’s difficult because we have over 50 girls out for golf for grades 7-12,” Northfield girls head golf coach Brian Stevens said. “Everyone is fighting for space. We’ve used the auxiliary gym, which is great for a basketball game, but not so great if you’re trying to off mats.”
Stevens said it forced him to work with athletes more on their short-game strokes and stressed more emphasis on swing technique.
Last spring, activities directors discussed extending the season because of all the early postponements, but found it more difficult to try to reschedule section tournament dates since activities directors had set those dates well in advance, Graupmann said. Postponing the dates of section tournaments proved problematic in gaining access to tournament sites. The tournament sites often have events scheduled throughout the spring in addition to high school tournaments.
“We looked at that, but ultimately it wasn’t an avenue we could go,” Graupmann said.
With NHS adding boys and girls lacrosse, there are nine spring sports teams vying for indoor practice space.
Nick Gerhardt is the Northfield News’ sports editor. You can reach him at 645-1111. Follow him on Twitter @NorthfieldNick.
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Friday, March 21, 2014 1:00 pm.
Updated: 9:29 pm.