Mother Nature leaves her mark in Cloquet and northern MinnesotaA week ago the area coaches were lamenting that they haven’t been able to get on the softball and baseball fields.
By: Kerry Rodd, Pine Journal
A week ago the area coaches were lamenting that they haven’t been able to get on the softball and baseball fields. For that matter, the golf teams haven’t gotten out, the tennis teams are struggling to find open courts and the track teams were finding the only open areas on the roadways. Then came Thursday and Friday, and the conditions just got worse, putting some teams as much as three weeks behind schedule in an already short season.
The Fond du Lac Tribal and Community College softball team should have played a total of 20 games by this point in the season, but instead, they have managed to play just six games. The Thunder spent three days shoveling off Braun Park fields in hopes of playing home games, but the situation became dire when last Thursday’s blizzard hit the park and dumped more snow on an already soggy situation. It seems likely the Thunder will finally open their season Saturday at home when the nation’s No. 1-ranked team, Central Lakes, makes its appearance at Braun Park.
The situation isn’t any better for high school teams – and the Esko girls softball team has seen the situation first hand. Last year, the Eskomos traveled to play in Florida prior to the season, but this year they are back home and trying to find a place to play.
“Our field is in terrible shape right now,” mentioned Brad Emanuel, coach of the Eskomos. “We are trying to figure out what we can do.”
The Cloquet baseball team had two games scheduled on the road this week, but those games will probably not be held either.
“We were scheduled to play in Greenway on Thursday and on Friday at Ashland, but they are in far worse shape than we are,” suggested Cloquet coach Steve Jezierski. “The tough thing is, there is not much room for rescheduling games. Already we have 20 games scheduled for 35 days and that includes Sundays.”
The Lumberjacks do not have a home game scheduled until next Tuesday, April 22, and that could mean their field will be ready.
“We need some decent drying conditions,” explained Jezierski. “Unless we get some more rain and snow, I think we should be able to get the game in.”
Much like other teams the Lumberjacks are in the gym for their fifth week and that can become cumbersome.
“I think you need to spend at least three weeks in a confined space,” remarked Jezierski. “It forces you to work on fundamentals and skills and to get your fund raising done. Four weeks in the gym gets long and five weeks is way too long.”
In the southern part of Carlton County and a bit beyond, things are not much better. After an early thaw in Willow River, that field was inundated by snow last week and as of 4 p.m. on Tuesday the field was still snowed under.
“I checked the field ... and it was still full of snow,” mentioned Willow River Athletic Director Dave Louzek. “It’ll be a while before it is playable.”
In Barnum, the Bombers are in much the same boat, according to their softball coach, Randy Myhre.
“The field isn’t ready yet,” said Myhre on Tuesday. “It just needs some drying out before it is playable.”
In AlBrook, the Falcons have yet to hit their baseball field and they are hoping for warmer conditions as well.
“We have already missed three games and our field is still snow covered,” remarked Damien Paulson head baseball coach. “Hopefully we can get the games in next week.”
Golf? Forget it! While the golf courses are slowly drying out, the problem is in shaded areas, where snowmelt is even slower.
The local track teams have also been fighting the snow problem and the Cloquet track team is finally starting to show signs of life.
“You have to walk through a foot of snow to get to our track, but now the track itself is, for the most part, thawed,” explained coach Tim Prosen. “We are six weeks into our season and have had two workouts on our track. Next week we go to Cambridge against the city schools who have hardly missed a beat, so we have stressed technique and worked on some of the little things to improve ourselves inside. Hopefully we’ll hit the track running.”
Most of the area tennis teams have struggled to find open courts, but warmer weather on Tuesday allowed most of the courts to finally dry out and those teams should be able to get things into high gear in the latter stages of the week.