Mother Nature 3, spring sports 0.
Kodiak’s near record-setting winter snowfall has put a damper on Kodiak High School’s spring sports.
Baseball, softball and track are all spending time indoors while their outside fields are covered in thick sheets of ice and snow.
“It’s the worst that I have ever seen,” longtime Kodiak baseball coach Rick Langfitt said. “Last year at the end of March we went on the field for a few days. Normally, there is not a layer of ice that is at least a foot thick all the way around the field.”
It appears that no relief is in sight, as temperatures continue to hover in the mid-20s and snow continues to fall.
Kodiak’s track team is taking matters into its own hands by trying to clear the ice-covered track that could be mistaken for a skating oval.
The Bears have two intersquad meets scheduled before hosting Palmer April 6-7.
Coach Marcus Dunbar said the track likely will not be ready for next Friday’s Blue/Gold meet or for the Invincible Pentathlon, but he is holding out hope for Palmer in three weeks.
“The plan is to keep working and hoping Mother Nature helps us more than hurts us,” Dunbar said. “It is a process. We have done a lot of snow and ice removal on the track.”
A small group of track members started clearing Joe Floyd Track and Field on Monday and after nearly three hours had made little headway.
“We were working in the thickest corner over by the equipment shed with sledgehammers, shot puts and shovels,” Dunbar said. “The ice has just accumulated and it’s the thickest I have ever seen the ice out there.”
Dunbar has never been forced to cancel a meet in Kodiak, and he is not ready to forfeit a meet to Mother Nature.
“We want to have that meet on April 6 and 7,” he said. “That is early and pushing it. If we just wait around, it is not going to be ready. The work that we are putting in now is for three weeks down the road to make sure we don’t cancel that meet.”
Dunbar is inviting the community to help clean the track.
“If somebody wants to get a good workout by throwing shot puts at our track, we will provide the shot puts,” he said.
Baseball and softball have a bit more leeway in getting their playing surface cleared. Both teams begin the season with home games against Kenai on April 27-28.
Langfitt, though, is not sure six weeks will be long enough to get Baranof Field ready.
“I don’t see much chance of getting on that field before the first game, unless we get an exceptional warm spell.”
The City of Kodiak Parks and Recreation Department has been sweeping and blowing snow off the track and infield for the past two weeks.
“I have never seen so much snow and continued cold where the snow does not go away,” Parks and Rec director Ian Fulp said.
The Parks and Rec soccer league begins March 26, and Fulp said that is in limbo.
“I’m just thinking maybe there will not be a soccer program,” he said. “I’m just wondering if this is ever going to let up.”
KHS softball coach Sam Catt is in Arizona this week, but he is staying in touch with the Kodiak weather.
“I have gotten some pictures and it is really ugly,” Catt said. “I am really concerned about the whole season.”
Until the weather heats up, teams stay indoors for practice.
“We got a great routine in the gym, we will see if we can stand eight weeks of it,” Langfitt said. “It has been honed over nine years of trial and error.”
Langfitt is limited in what he can do in the KHS gym, especially when it is filled with more than 30 players.
“We could get our pitchers ready. We could do a decent job of getting our hitters ready, but we can not get our defense ready in the gym,” he said.
Dunbar has a few more options. The distance team runs outside, while sprinters, throwers and jumpers work on form and technique inside.
“The problem is you don’t get to compete and get marks that are relevant,” Dunbar said. “You’ve got to just be patient and motivated and focused. It is hard to keep the focus when you are just working out and you don’t compete and get a performance result.”
Langfitt has the same problems with keeping his players focused and admits it’s also hard for the coaching staff.
“After two hours in the gym we are losing focus, too,” he said. “Keeping the coaches focused is really hard.”
Contact Mirror writer Derek Clarkston at sports@kodiak