Weather or talent lacking?Fargo — Poor weather wreaked havoc on high school track and field teams throughout North Dakota this season. Hit and miss is the best way to describe conditions athletes faced for practices and competitions. It seemed like there was a sunny day, followed by three cold and rainy days. Or it was a severely windy day, followed by a few cold and dreary days.
By: By Heath Hotzler, Forum Communications Co., The Jamestown Sun
Fargo — Poor weather wreaked havoc on high school track and field teams throughout North Dakota this season.
Hit and miss is the best way to describe conditions athletes faced for practices and competitions.
It seemed like there was a sunny day, followed by three cold and rainy days. Or it was a severely windy day, followed by a few cold and dreary days.
Times in some events suffered. Some did not.
Either way, coaches say runners will be ready to shine at this weekend’s state track meet at the Community Bowl in Bismarck. The Class A and Class B events start at 10:30 a.m. today.
“Most of the kids never really talk about it,” longtime Bismarck boys coach Dave Zittleman said. “They understand that they live in North Dakota. You just tell them to look forward to the next opportunity they have (when the weather is bad).”
Coaches said the weather might have affected sprinting, distance and relay events in some ways.
Zittleman said sprinters across the state missed out on opportunities to post low times because many couldn’t get warmed up properly in cool-weather meets. Last season, four Class A boys and four Class B boys entered state with 100-meter times below 11 seconds.
Only two boys runners –both in Class A – have run the 100 in fewer than 11 seconds this year. West Fargo’s Shane Siverson and Bismarck St. Mary’s standout John Welk both posted 100 times of 10.74.
Lisbon boys coach Joe Howell said Class B state qualifying times in the 100, 200, 400 and 800 this year match up well with last season. And field events have been consistent.
However, weather may have played a part in slowing Class B boys and girls distance relay times.
Kindred set a new Region 1 record in the girls 1,600 relay with a time of 4:07.34. No other 1,600 team is within three seconds of the Vikings’ time.
Bad weather and more time training indoors may have stifled relay teams’ abilities to find a rhythm.
Or it could just be a coincidence, Howell said.
“It’s hard to get in a rhythm, but you are also putting kids in different events, also,” Howell said. “… Is it the weather, or just a lack of talent in that area? I think each coach and each team has to look in the mirror and ask how they can improve to get these kids where they need to be.”
Howell said Lisbon had five meets canceled due to poor weather this season. It was the fewest amount of meets for the Broncos in a season since 1979, Howell said.
Kindred girls coach Joan Halland said cold weather wreaks havoc on distance runners, who have to battle wind, cold temperature and rain for longer stretches.
Yet, Class B times in the 1,600 and 3,200 have been good, Halland said.
“This sport is so dependent on weather,” Halland said. “It could depend on what part of the state you were in at what time. There was still snow in April, and a lot of those people didn’t get outside as much until later.”
Halland said athletes adjusted well to the poor conditions. Fargo South girls coach Mike Merritt said the Bruins were not at all affected by weather this year. He estimated that South had about six personal-best performances per meet, and many athletes increased their performances as the year went on as usual.
“I’m not sure weather was too much of an issue –other than being annoying,” Merritt said.
Hotzler is a sports writer at the Fargo Forum