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Renovated McCook Central/Montrose football field damaged, but baseball diamonds dodge Salem storms

“We’ve got quite a bit of damage out there,” said Doug Durfee, athletic director for McCook Central School. Durfee is also helping manage the state VFW baseball tournament.

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A light pole lays on the track at Gene Danielsen Field after being blown over in a storm on Tuesday, July 5, 2022 in Salem.
Photo courtesy of Doug Durfee
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SALEM, S.D. — McCook Central/Montrose’s new-look football stadium will have to wait a bit longer for some of its new amenities after Mother Nature dealt a blow to the renovations.

On May 12, the first of two derecho storms took down the brand-new press box. Then, on July 5, the second storm brought a new light pole to the ground, landing on the recently refinished track.

But football season gets serious in August. It's still time for baseball, and while the football field sustained the most damage of Salem's playing fields, the town's ball diamond dodged most of the wreck. Actually, "it's pretty miraculous it didn't do more damage," said Doug Durfee, athletic director for McCook Central School. Durfee is also helping manage the state VFW baseball tournament.

Salem is set to host the 10-and-under Class B state baseball tournament Friday through Sunday, and the baseball fields suffered minor damage. There was some cleanup duty on the diamond, though. The press box from the football field was severely damaged and blew onto the baseball field.

“We’ve got quite a bit of damage out there,” Durfee said.

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The press box at Gene Danielsen Field lays on the ground after being blown off during a storm on Thursday, May 12, 2022 in Salem.
Photo courtesy of Doug Durfee

Durfee mentioned that debris from a local roof was blown onto the field, but he’s hopeful the damage doesn’t disrupt the football season considering games begin in about one month.

One possible change for the season could be starting earlier in the day due to potential lighting issues. There’s still debris to be cleaned up and one light pole down, but the goal is to have the playing surface ready to go for the season. That means regular kickoffs for home games may get moved earlier.

“We’re hoping that… we can get [the light] up before our first home game,” Durfee said. “It’s too early to tell right now, but if everything goes to plan we should be alright to host everything for football.”

Read more about Salem here ...
Noem honored the staff at Avera Avantara in Salem, along with Staff Sgt. Mark Kock, of the South Dakota Air Guard, with the Governor’s Award for Heroism.

These same storms left their marks on local sports already, though, forcing the 8U state baseball championships to relocate to Bryant due to damage on the Center Field, which is about seven miles north of Salem.

However, the fields in Salem and Montrose are good to play the upcoming 10U tournament, although not without their minor flaws from the major storms.

Durfee said there is a 15-20-foot chunk taken out of the outfield fence from the press box falling onto the Salem baseball field, but the playing surface itself wasn’t hurt.

On top of that, there are some bends and dents in the fences, and the batting cages are completely down and mangled, but the overall damage to the diamond is pretty minor, he said.

The fields are important to get back into shape in due time, but after winds in the May storm exceeded 58 mph, and gusts reached 80 mph in July, restoring the community itself is at the top of the list for many in the Salem area.

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“We won’t have a press box [this season] because we have so many houses and garages and stuff blown down,” Durfee said. “The priority in town is getting everyone’s houses and everything back in order.”

Zech Lambert is a sports reporter for the Mitchell Republic. He graduated from Penn State University in May 2022 and began at the Mitchell Republic in July 2022. He can be reached at zlambert@mitchellrepublic.com or on Twitter @Zech_Lambert.
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