BRITT – The hood on Troy Hobscheidt’s bright red coat was up over his head on Monday, April 4, as he made his way around to track and field events at Bob Sanger Field.
“We came this close to calling it off today,” said the West Hancock High School athletic director, holding his thumb and index finger less than an inch apart.
With temperatures just over the 40-degree mark and winds between 10 and 15 mph, overcast skies turned sunny later in the afternoon and the colors of the area high school track teams shined bright as athletes circled the track.
It wasn’t necessarily a warm spring day, but the West Hancock officials made a good call to go ahead with the Bob Sanger Relays. It was the nicest day of a week when track meets and golf events were postponed due to inclement weather across North Iowa.
Hobscheidt said coaches and officials looked at forecasts and current conditions as they made their final decision to hold their first outdoor event of the season.
Meet officials waived the uniform rule, which allowed the athletes to wear sweats, caps and gloves. A quick check during the meet showed that very few wore extra clothing while they competed.
Eagle senior Emma Chizek had a great first meet. She won the discus and finished second in the shot put.
“It wasn’t terrible,” she said of the weather. “It was all right at first, but as the day went on it got colder and it was really cold at the end.
“I warmed up a lot before each throw and kept my sweats on until right before throwing. A lot of girls kept their sweat pants on, but I took mine off to throw.”
“It went real well,” said Hobscheidt. “We didn’t get the wind, along with the cold temperatures. It was cold, but with people wrapping up in blankets and sweats, I think everyone was happy to run.”
Three days earlier, on April 1, the Forest City track meet scheduled at Waldorf’s Bolstorff Field was postponed. With the temperature at 37 degrees and northwest winds from 20 to 41 mph, the wind chill made the temperature feel like 27 degrees.
“We took a look at the safety of the kids,” said athletic director Brad Jones. “Any time we have temperatures in the mid 40s down to the 30s, we hesitate to run a track meet.”
He said young athletes are susceptible to cold weather with hamstring and muscle injuries.
“If the kids are out there freezing, it isn’t a good experience, and we’ve found that it can decrease interest and their parents’ encouragement,” he said. “The other thing is that it takes a lot of people to run a track meet and chances are that in the future they won’t work if it’s freezing.”
On Tuesday, April 5, Eagle Grove made the decision to go ahead with its boys meet. And while it was another cold, windy day, West Hancock chose to stay home, while Forest City decided to compete.
“It was really cold,” said Richard Gildemeister, a sprinter for the Indians. “It was hard to run. The meet was going so slow (between) events. I felt good while I ran my 400, but right afterward it was cold again.”
Tyler Anderson, a Forest City senior, said it was the coldest event he has competed in, even colder than last year’s North Iowa Conference meet where rain and cold weather hampered competition.
Hopscheidt said that he agreed with coaches saying that sending the athletes out in the same conditions two nights in a row may have been a little too much.
Jones said he called the Eagle Grove athletic director to determine if they were thinking about canceling.
“We went there one year and right after we got there they called it off,” said Jones. “But they said they were going ahead, so we decided to go.”