The Howard Wood Dakota Relays are a week away and it typically signals the midway point of the track and field season.
While there is just a month remaining before the state meets, most teams around the state have been stuck in neutral thanks to a mid-April blast of snow that wiped out meets and practices for nearly a week.
After missing a few days of school for the blizzard, some teams got back to practice, only to reach the Easter break. Perhaps more frustrating to coaches than missing meets has been the stop-and-start nature of the season that impacts progress.
"Just before the storm, we were at a meet and things were looking good, and then we had the five days off where you couldn't train at all," Mount Vernon/Plankinton girls coach Lawron Bohr said. "When we went to the next track meet, we went backwards instead of forwards. It's a huge detriment to your practice schedule and training regimen."
Some of the most popular area track meets were wiped out, as MVP's Greenway Relays and Tripp-Delmont/Armour's Burnell Glanzer Relays were both canceled for the second consecutive season. In fact, TDA has competed in fewer meets (three) than had meets canceled (four), and Wagner has seen five of its meets gone by the wayside.
While losing meets is most disappointing for athletes hoping to compete, it also cuts down on opportunities for coaches to tinker with runners in various events or finding the right pieces for relay teams.
The Nighthawks are the defending state champions in the girls 4x100-meter and 4x200-meter relay teams and return three of the four legs. They were hoping to use the early portion of the season to find the missing piece, but the lack of competition has hindered that process.
"Howard Wood is going to be our fifth meet when it would normally be our eighth or ninth," TDA head coach Ron Weber said. "We're just going to go up there and whatever happens, happens. We're not even in shape yet. I can tell by our times that we've got a long ways to go, but last year we were a late-blooming team, too. "
While most coaches have lamented over the craziness caused by the weather, one point of solace is that each team has to deal with the same situations.
Teams now have fewer opportunities to hit standard times and prepare to peak at the desired meet. Goals won't be changed, but the weather has made them more difficult to attain.
"You just haven't had the competitions to lay the groundwork and to get into that rhythm," Wagner head coach Joe Kafka said. "It's been more of a challenge this year. It's the same timeline, but it's going to be more difficult to get there. ... Everybody's dealing with it."