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MSHSL will not extend Spring sports seasons

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sports Perham, 56573
Perham Focus
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Perham Minnesota 222 2nd Avenue SE 56573

PERHAM — One spring event has been contested since the start of the season, that being an indoor track meet at Concordia College. Since that April 2 meet, over 30 Perham athletic events have been postponed or canceled.

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With the recent snowfall over the weekend, getting in a golf meet or baseball or softball game, track or tennis meet in the month of April is beginning to look doubtful. 19 of 21 events scheduled this week have been postponed.

Conversations began, somewhat at random, online over the past weekend, about extending the spring season to allot for full conference schedules and section playoffs.

An anonymous track coach sent a message to the Minnesota State High School League, prompting the MSHSL to repost it on Facebook looking for input.

There are a number of tenuous factors involved in extending the season to compensate for a lost month.

Here is a copy of the letter that was submitted:

“As an urgent, emergent action, add two weeks to the MSHSL spring sports season. All Minnesota spring interscholastic sports have been devastatingly set back by the unseasonably cold, wintry weather this spring. Every spring sport has suffered in its ability to prepare, train, and most importantly give the opportunity for high school student-athletes to experience participatory competition.

High school sports are ‘about’ experiencing both the benefits of training, practice, and participation in competition. The weather statewide this spring has taken away one of the most important tenets of interscholastic sports, student-athletes being able to participate in competition. Baseball and softball games have been canceled or postponed, lacrosse matches put off or crossed-off, and track competitions have been limited to the very few indoor competitions that exist, and an outdoor season has been non-existent. And, the next two weeks don't look much better.

Admittedly, adding two weeks of the spring sport season is an extraordinary measure, but the weather has been extraordinary. It’s simply inequitable that Minnesota high school spring sport teams would be reduced to a five-week season when the fall and winter interscholastic seasons had their full 12-14 week seasons.

Yes, there are complicated logistics involved; yes, it would most likely cost money to do so, but one could argue that a) as sport administrators of a statewide governing body, the bottom line job is to create a pathway for students to experience the full benefits of interscholastic sports, and b) sometimes – under extraordinary circumstances – it becomes an imperative to look beyond the ledgers and simply do what’s right for kids.”

The MSHSL announced Monday that changes to state tournament dates will not be changed. In an interview with WDAY-TV’s Dom Izzo, MSHSL Associate Director Kevin Merkle said, “State tournament dates, however, I don’t see that changing for a whole bunch of reasons. One is the commitments that are already there and the contracts that are signed, but we’re already into June. In fact, baseball goes as late as the 17th of June and to move everything back really impacts summer plans for people.”

The issue of adding a fortnight to the season would have allowed a regular season of at least five weeks compared to the normal eight. All the postponements have already bombarded schedules in the month of May.

For example, the Perham softball team will play four games in four days in the middle of May: a Monday game on the road at Pelican Rapids; a doubleheader at home versus East Grand Forks on Tuesday and a Thursday game versus Dilworth-Glyndon-Felton.

“The gym is definitely not the right place to practice during softball season, but we have been working hard throughout all the practices,” Perham pitcher Allie Doll said. “We all can't wait any longer to get outside, especially since a year ago we were playing in 70 degree weather. I see a lot of progress being done by my teammates and I can tell its going to be a very successful season.”

The Frazee softball invitational scheduled for April 20, which is typically a Saturday that propels the softball season into full swing will be played on May 11 this year.

Track is one sport that may get a second meet in. The teams will participate April 19 at Bemidji State University in the lone event not yet postponed this week.

Wednesdays, typically reserved as day’s off from athletic events throughout the school year, will also see some games.

The tennis team’s co-op with Wadena-Deer Creek has allowed the team to practice, at least.

“We have the privilege of having an indoor court in Wadena,” Head Coach Peter Tranvik said. “We have had a number of practices using this court. The Perham players have been very willing to travel the distance – we might be the only team in the conference with this much practice time on an indoor court and we are taking advantage of it.”

One anomaly date is Friday, May 17, which remains a day off for all teams, as of this publication date. The more games that get postponed put that long weekend in jeopardy.

In a season of extraordinary weather, it may take extraordinary steps to not have teams cheated of close to half of their seasons. The Weather Channels’ Eric Fischer reported Monday that 94 percent of the Upper Midwest is covered in snow, average depth of a foot. Last year only 0.5 percent was covered.

A 50-degree day is not forecast until April 24, and the high temperature set for that Wednesday is 48 degrees.

One team suffering the cold snap a bit more than others is the New York Mills baseball team. The Eagles would have opened their season ranked No. 2 in the state in Class A. With two big arms on the mound, in Tyler Patron and Brandon Kupfer, a cramped schedule is going to limit their appearances due to the innings limit per week placed on high school pitchers.

According to MSHSL,  On any given day or in any three consecutive days, a pitcher is not be permitted to pitch more than a total of 14 innings.

Monday afternoon, the MSHSL did announce baseball and softball teams can play five or six-inning doubleheaders.

The week of April 23-30 could be crucial for the Eagles, as they have three conference doubleheaders scheduled. Potentially, those games will create scenarios of finding pitchers to fill at least 42 innings in a week. Worse will be finding time for six baseball games in the crowded month of May should more postponements occur. The announcement of playing shorter games should ease some of the mound workload for Mills. The Eagles will be looking to make their third straight trip to the state tournament in June.

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Robert Williams
Robert is the Sports Editor of Detroit Lakes Newspapers. Williams worked prior in Perham for the Focus, a Forum Communications newspaper, from 2010-14. 
(218) 844-1442
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