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Cats wait out cabin fever

Wildcat golfer Garrett Loomis practices his swing under the watchful eyes of coach Matt Garber Monday afternoon in the middle school multipurpose room. Wildcat spring sports teams are scrambling to find indoor practice space this spring due to the weather and the golfers are making the best out of using the old middle school pool. <i>Bob Burrows photo</i>

River Falls' activities director Rollie Hall said this year's late thaw reminds him of what it was like when he was a kid. But that doesn't mean he likes it.

Hall has been busy rescheduling games and shuffling practice time and space as all the Wildcat spring teams wait for the snow to clear and the fields to dry out.

So far, the baseball, softball and tennis teams have all seen the start of their seasons, scheduled for this week, wiped out. Hall said the boys' tennis team will be able to scrimmage at Hudson Thursday, April 4, but he said it will be next week, at the earliest, before baseball and softball can get outside.

"We're hoping by next week we can play some home games," he said. "With softball, as soon as the snow is off and the outfield dries out we can get out there because they have a skin infield. It's just a matter of getting rid of the mud puddles."

Hall said the Wildcat girls' soccer opener, scheduled for Tuesday at home against Rice Lake, has been moved to Rice Lake to take advantage of the artificial turf at Pug Lund Field. He said it could be weeks before the Cats play a home soccer game.

"Realistically, I don't see us playing a home soccer game for two or three weeks," he said. "Our field doesn't dry well."

Hall said finding indoor practice space, and times, for all the Wildcat teams has also been a challenge.

"Golf is in the pit over at the middle school," he said, referring to the middle school multipurpose room. "Everything else is here indoors at the high school. A little earlier, a little later, just trying to use all the facilities we have available."

The only team that has been able to compete so far this spring has been track and field, who will host the All-American Invitational this Saturday at 10 a.m. at UW-River Falls' Knowles Center.

Hall said, at some point, he may have to start cancelling games for some teams rather than reschedule.

"You have to still be smart about things," he said. "You don't want to end up playing four or five times a week in May. We may be looking at cancelling some of the nonconference games and not making them up. You want to make sure you get all your conference games in. But we're not there yet."

Even when the snow and ice eventually clear, teams will be faced with the challenges associated with typical spring Wisconsin weather.

"Snow is one thing, but then it can rain for a week," Hall said. "You never know."

Bob Burrows
Bob Burrows has been sports editor at the River Falls Journal since 1996 and at the Hudson Star-Observer since 2009. Prior to joining the Journal, Burrows served as sports editor with Ledger Publications in Balsam Lake, Wis. A native of Bayonne, N.J. and a U.S. Navy veteran, Burrows attended Marquette University before completing his studies at UW-River Falls in 1992.
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