Weather has hurt peninsula athletes

It was during the U.P. Division 1 track and field regional at Marquette on May 16, perhaps – if my memory serves me correctly – during the 3,200-meter run.

A longtime former coach and track official turned to a fellow official and said “runners 10 years ago would cringe at the times being turned in today.”

Or words to that affect.

He was correct. Times for running events at track and field meets this spring have been – by-and-large – slower than expected and not nearly as fast as those recorded years ago.

A look back into Division 1 regional action in 2004 saw better times then in several boys’ running events: 11.05 seconds in the 100-meter dash vs. 11.42 this month; 22.94 in the 200 dash vs. 23.65 this spring; 39.80 in the 300 hurdles then vs. 44.09 now; and 15.16 in the 110 hurdles vs. 17.48 on May 16, for example.

For the girls, times were better in 2004 in the 200 dash (26.56 vs. 27.12) and 100 hurdles (15.95 vs. 16.84), for example.

Some runners, of course, are turning in impressive times, like Marquette’s Lindsey Rudden. Exceptional athletes find a way to post good times no matter what the norm seems to be.

But it appears times this season have not been as good as in the past.

There’s a reason for that, of course. It’s not necessarily athletes this spring are any less talented than their predecessors, nor care any less to excel.

It’s the weather. Most Upper Peninsula prep athletes have been hurt by the poor weather we’ve experienced this spring.

Late spring snow forced athletes inside for practice and delayed the start of play outside for days, if not weeks.

Had it not been for Michigan Tech’s Student Development Complex and the Superior Dome in Marquette, where indoor meets were held, many track and field athletes would not have seen any competitive action until May 1 or beyond.

They would still have been relegated to running in school hallways to practice.

Prep tennis teams have also been affected by Mother Nature’s wrath. Westwood High School, for example, saw several matches canceled due to snow or rainy weather.

The Patriots went into Thursday’s Mid-Peninsula Conference meet with just eight matches played. That’s not a lot of time to settle on a regular lineup and be prepared for conference championship play.

Let’s not forget golfers, who may have been hurt most of all by the weather this spring.

Peninsula courses from Manistique west were slow to open due to snow. That put the development of U.P. prep golfers behind schedule.

During the basketball season, a Superiorland high school golf coach half-jokingly told me the way the winter weather was going at the time, U.P. golf teams might might only get conference meets in just before playing for the peninsula championships.

He was nearly right.

Girls’ softball teams were able to take part in the Marquette Spring Swing Tournament inside the Superior Dome, but many had a hard time hosting outdoor games – or getting games in at all – due to wet weather.

Marquette’s girls soccer team has not held an outdoor home match this season with the Kaufman Sports Complex closed due to the weather.

Prep athletes need practice time and games/meets/tournaments to hone their skills to a highly-competitive level.

They just haven’t had much of an opportunity to do that this spring.

Craig Remsburg can be reached at 906-228-2500, ext. 251. His email address is cremsburg@miningjournal.net.