CORVALLIS — Nearly a week of springtime temperatures and shoveling efforts were still no match for Mother Nature's snowy grip, which forced school officials to make the decision Wednesday to cancel Saturday's Gene Hughes Invitational track meet in Corvallis.
Every single Bitterroot school from Florence to Darby was scheduled to take part in the spring-season kickoff meet, but nearly a foot of snow remained Thursday on the track's infield and surrounding areas of the stadium.
"There's just too much snow out there everywhere to do it," Corvallis athletic director Tyson Tucker said Thursday. "There's no place for kids to set up tents and they don't have the football field to warm up.
"They'd have to sit in the stands and then (fans) wouldn't have anywhere to sit. There's no place to park and yeah, it's just a mess out there right now."
Tucker added it was the first time in his nine years as athletic director at Corvallis that the school has had to cancel the Gene Hughes meet, which last year brought in 12 schools including the six Bitterroot high schools.
The cancelation again goes to show just how wild the late-February record snow storm was.
"Usually we don't have snow on the ground this time of year. Not like this anyway," Tucker said.
That means the Corvallis boys, Class A's defending state champion team, will have to wait a few more days to compete against the rest of the Bitterroot.
Corvallis again hosts the Bitterroot time trials on Wednesday, bringing in the other Class A schools in the area. With weather highs topping out in the 50s for the next five days and calls for rain, the surrounding snow may soon recede enough to hold a meet.
The track meet cancelation means a no-go for the Florence, Darby, Hamilton, Stevensville and Victor track and field programs as well. Corvallis' tennis team is still scheduled for a meet in Polson on Saturday against the hosting Pirates as well as Loyola Sacred Heart.
Hamilton tennis is a go for Friday in Polson, though Hamilton AD Travis Blome said the Broncs' home tennis meet against Dillon and Ronan on Saturday has been canceled.
Blome added, though, that the Broncs' softball season opener on Monday against Ronan in Hamilton is still scheduled.
Florence's early season schedule was particularly affected by the late-season snow. The Falcons' softball season opener in Troy, scheduled for this Saturday, was moved back to April 4. The defending state champion Falcons also had their March 29 matchup against Plains rescheduled to April 11.
"A lot of times the changing of spring sports usually happens for rain outs and snow outs, not for not being able to get out on the fields to practice," Florence athletic director Scott Marsh said.
The Florence-Darby golf invite, originally scheduled for March 30th in Hamilton, was pushed back to April 11 and Florence golfers haven't even been able to step on any course yet.
The Falcons home course in Stevensville is still under calf-deep snow, according to Marsh, and Florence golfers have been practicing at the Fireside Pizza indoor golf facility in Stevensville.