'A test of patience' as winter weather continues to push back against spring sports schedules
Spring will be here soon. But right now, programs are barely finding opportunities to practice outdoors, let alone host events.
MITCHELL — From Joe Quintal Field to the Cadwell Sports Complex, there’s yet to be much activity for Mitchell High School spring sports.
Of course, Mother Nature is at fault.
As the combination of near-freezing temperatures with wind, rain and snow continues to roll through the Mitchell area, the yearly delay to the start of spring sports seasons in South Dakota is quickly approaching the second week of April.
Right now, most programs are barely finding opportunities to practice outdoors, let alone host events. And with each passing day, more anxiousness creeps in as more events get postponed or axed altogether.
“We had some things you probably expected, as well as some things that we weren't expecting,” said Mitchell activities director Cory Aadland. “The fluidity of scheduling and the weather has created a little bit more uneasiness, I guess. That's a test of the patience for all of our spring sports, for sure.”
The National Weather Service office in Sioxu Falls reports that the Mitchell area has experienced 58.7 inches of snow this winter, the third-most on record. Monday, April 3, was the first day with less than one inch of measurable snow on the ground, breaking a 115-day streak, the longest on record by nine days. Travel hasn’t always been easy either, as Monday marked the 20th day this winter that Interstate 90 has had a closure somewhere in South Dakota.
In the case of MHS softball, a program in its first spring as a sanctioned activity under the South Dakota High School Activities Association, the weather has pushed back the debut back two weeks already, postponing contests scheduled for March 28, April 3 and April 4. As it stands, Mitchell’s first game is now set for April 11 at the Cadwell Sports Complex.
According to Aadland, the Kernels’ schedule was intentionally constructed to compensate for early-season postponements by using just 15 of the 20 allowed contests.
While Mitchell baseball has Drake Field, with its artificial infield turf, at its disposal — Mitchell baseball coach Luke Norden noted that he’s “super happy” with the way the field looks right now — the softball team’s most accessible turf option would be to construct a temporary setup at Joe Quintal Field. Aadland said he’s looked into the feasibility of doing so, but isn’t considering it a serious option at this point in time.
“There are probably too many moving parts to really make that deal workable,” Aadland explained. “It's probably doable, but I just think it will probably require more in terms of logistics than what I'm able to do here in the short term.”
When it comes to track and field, the early season is frequently marked with several indoor competitions, but even some of those were unable to take place due to weather complicating travel.
In the wake of the Eastern South Dakota Conference indoor meet cancellation (scheduled for last weekend in Brookings), the MHS track and field program added an indoor meet at Dakota Wesleyan’s Corrigan Fieldhouse on short notice to get in some more competition reps. That meet is scheduled for 11 a.m. Thursday.
The baseball program was scheduled to open its season in Rapid City with four games between April 1 and 2 but had those contests canceled. Now, Mitchell is hopeful to begin its season April 10, provided Drake Field has minimal snow.
But while a litany of postponements or cancellations isn’t ideal, from Norden’s point of view, there’s at least one positive to be found in the extra lead-in time before competitions enter full swing. It likely applies, at least in part, to all spring sports.
“We’ll take advantage of all the time that we can get outside, and get in the games that we can early,” Norden said. “But if we don't get games in, practice for us isn't a bad thing right now.”