Weather forces everyone to get creative

High school gyms and hallways have turned into some type of spring sport training facility as anxious students and coaches wait for Mother Nature to do its thing and warm the grass, as slow as it might be.

At Anoka, track practice continued indoors with the pole vaulters leaving the ground for the first time Monday afternoon.

Assistant coach Jeff Buerkle, who works with the pole vaulters, said the weather affected the team in different ways. For the vaulters, their first day vaulting over the bar came April 22, much later than normal. “We have been doing drills and working on runways, etcetera, without mats. Sounds good after this week,” he said, optimistically.

Several top area track and field athletes will head to the Hamline Elite Meet which kicks off April 26 in St. Paul.

The Tornadoes girls’ lacrosse team found indoor space on which to practice inside the Anoka Ice Arena. Instead of ice, the team played on a turf field.

Cardinals scratch return to Dome

Coon Rapids baseball coach Jerry Coe talked about the extended spring training sessions inside the Coon Rapids fieldhouse which included fundamental fielding, throwing and some batting cage work.

“Our guys have handled it pretty well,” Coe said, given the fact the team didn’t practice from Wednesday to Monday due to snowstorms, off-day from school and scheduling conflicts with the Coon Rapids fieldhouse.

That afternoon’s gym time was the first chance for his team to officially practice since the previous Wednesday when the snowstorm Thursday and Friday canceled practice and what would’ve been the team’s first game – albeit inside the Mall of America Field.

The Cardinals were scheduled to play Prior Lake at 11 p.m. April 18 but all after school activities were canceled, which he said was the right call.

“We were ready to go,” he said. “I had the scorebook and line-up all set.”

The game was rescheduled for a 7 p.m. start in Prior Lake May 14.

Last time Coe coached the Cardinals inside the Dome was a memorable one – the state championship game in 1993. Coon Rapids beat Forest Lake for the state title.

When Coe looked down at his clipboard with Monday’s agenda, the number 28 stood out.

He’s kept track of the number of days the team has practiced inside without a game in the 2013 season. Take away three days for snow-related cancellations and the team has had 25 days of gym practice.

“This is our fifth week for the high school in the gym and a lot of them went to pitch-to-pitch camps Sunday nights for 10 weeks,” he said.

Standout pitcher Logan Shore and Tony Mrosla spent the winter playing with the AAA Minnesota Blizzard team and played in a tournament in Florida to get some live-game action in late February-early March.

Once the season gets under way, Coe said practice time will come before and possibly after games. “Games are fun and once we get rolling, we’ll have a lot,” he said.

Coon Rapids has managed one day of outdoor batting cage practice combined with fly-ball drills. Inside the focus has been on fundamentals, including ground ball fielding, first and third defense, offensive bunting and defensive double-plays. “We’re going over things multiple times,” Coe said. “Is that good? Yes. Because once you get rolling you won’t have many chances.”

To accommodate other sports, Coe said they cut practice from two hours to 90 minutes. “A few nights we went to 10:30 at night, so it’s been tough,” he said. “These are high school kids so you can’t expect them to go real late and get up and to class everyday.”

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