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Pat Miller: This week at Bemidji High School - Cold complicates winter schedules

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Last spring was a nightmare for Bemidji High School activities director Troy Hendricks and his compatriots at the other northern Minnesota schools.

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The winter that never would end raised havoc with all of the spring sports and the activities directors were constantly cancelling events, postponing events and trying to find ways to squeeze in the games and meets that had to be played into the few dates that were available.

The result was an April almost void of any athletic contests and a May that was bulging at the seams.

The end of December and the early days of January are following a similar pattern as the Arctic air that has descended upon northern Minnesota has forced school officials to think twice before sending their student/athletes to Detroit Lakes or Cloquet or Fergus Falls or anywhere in between.

Last week’s schedule was supposed to feature three events on Thursday, three more on Friday and six on Saturday. Because of the dangerous weather conditions, however, all three of Thursday’s events were cancelled or postponed, two of the three Friday events were called off and Saturday’s ski meet at Alexandria, swim meet at Detroit Lakes and gym meet at Park Rapids were scrapped.

Thursday’s boys basketball game at Moorhead has been switched to Feb. 11, Friday’s girls basketball game at Detroit Lakes will be played this Saturday and the Park Rapids gym meet has been moved to Jan. 18.

“Postponing events is not an enjoyable experience because we are already about one-third of the way through our seasons and there aren’t many vacant spots available,” Hendricks said. “Finding a date that works for a postponement is difficult. You have to take whatever dates you can and try to fit those dates into an available gym or a rink or a pool. And if you can find a date that is mutually acceptable and a facility that is open, that is a wonderful situation,” Hendricks added.

This week’s schedule at BHS already includes one postponement as Grand Rapids officials scrubbed tonight’s wrestling meet as soon as they heard that the governor was going to close all public schools on Monday.

That decision may have been premature but safety always takes precedent over any competition and in this case the Grand Rapids folks decided to play it safe.

When extreme cold, snow or wind are forecast, Hendricks and the Bemidji School District officials have to make similar decisions and Hendricks is never reluctant to seek other opinions.

“If I’m not sure I contact Dr. Hess (Bemidji’s superintendent of schools Jim Hess), our transportation people or Bemidji Bus Lines and ask them if they feel it is safe to take kids out or not,” Hendricks said. “Typically, the people in charge of the buses aren’t going to send people out if the conditions are not safe. But if they feel it is safe, we will go.”

Conditions probably would not have been safe on Monday night but, because of Governor Dayton’s order to close all public schools, staging any school-related event on Monday was not an option.

The weather is predicted to improve during the rest of the week, although today’s forecast calls for another blast of Arctic air.

“I really do not want to reschedule any more of Tuesday’s events,” Hendricks said.

Those events include a special treat for basketball fans as Bemidji’s girls and boys teams will host Thief River Falls at the Sanford Center. With the Harlem Globetrotters coming to the facility on Wednesday the timing was right for Sanford Center officials to give the floor a test run and BHS gladly accepted the invitation.

Tonight’s doubleheader will begin with the girls game at 6 p.m. and the boys game will follow.

“This is a great opportunity for the Sanford Center to showcase the facility, for us to utilize the Sanford Center (at no charge to the school district) and to play in a great atmosphere,” Hendricks said. “The court is already down for the Globetrotters and the Sanford people wanted us to get the feel of playing in the facility.”

Tonight’s game starts a hectic week for the girls basketball team as the Lumberjacks will host Duluth East on Thursday and head to Detroit Lakes Saturday to make up last week’s postponement.

The boys team has a pair of games this week, tonight against the Prowlers and Friday at Duluth Denfeld.

Tonight’s schedule also sees the girls hockey team entertaining Moorhead at 7:30 p.m. and the boys team visiting Crookston.

On Friday the girls will travel to North Wright County and their week will end Saturday at Chaska. The boys will host Roseau at 3 p.m. Saturday.

Bemidji’s wrestling team also will be busy as the Jacks will invade Hibbing Thursday, welcome Columbia Heights on Friday and host the annual Rick Lee Invitational on Saturday. Among the 13 teams expected for Saturday’s competition are Blackduck-Cass Lake-Bena, Walker-Hackensack-Akeley-Nevis and Badger-Greenbush-Middle River.

The gymnasts will spend the weekend on the road as they go to the Alexandria Invitational on Friday and take part in the Moorhead Invitational on Saturday.

The swimmers and divers will make their second home appearance on Friday as they stage their home invitational. Completing the field will be Melrose, Detroit Lakes, Grand Forks Central, Grand Rapids, Moorhead, Perham, Grand Forks Red River and Thief River Falls.

Bemidji’s skiers had last week’s meet at Alexandria cancelled because of the cold and today’s action at Fergus Falls also is up in the air because of the Arctic blast. Conditions will be better on Saturday, however, when BHS is scheduled to compete at Mesabi East.

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Pat Miller is the sports editor at the Pioneer.

(218) 333-9200
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