SIOUX CITY | Olsen Stadium looked like a ghost town Friday morning.
A chilly mist fell upon the scene where collegiate athletes should have been preparing for running events and field events on Day 2 of the Sioux City Relays. Wind gusts whipped at the rate of 30 mph.
Bob Prince was among three individuals standing along the southwest corner of the track. Three hours earlier, he and other planners of the 54th annual event had made calls, texts or Facebook posts declaring that Friday’s action had been called off because of poor weather conditions.
It is the first time the Sioux City Relays lost an entire day since it returned after an 18-year hiatus in 1985.
“We were talking to people last night and then this morning around 6:30, I sent a text to people saying, ‘What do you think’,” said Prince, who co-directs the meet along with Dave Fravel of Bishop Heelan and Nick Gaul of East.
“We said, 'Let’s make some calls quickly.' We decided to try to notify people. High school kids were coming in that day. Colleges were staying at local hotels. Some had left Thursday. We heard that Jamestown left and hit a little bit of a blizzard on the way home. We heard from Sioux Falls Washington decided they couldn’t make it down. I don’t blame them. It wouldn’t have been productive.”
A decision had been made earlier Monday night to move the Sioux City Relays from Friday and Saturday to Thursday and Friday. Committee members were considering Saturday’s snowy forecast.
Outside of wind, Thursday’s weather led to productive times and efforts for collegiate athletes. Competitors to the northwest of Sioux City (South Dakota, South Dakota State, North Dakota, Jamestown, Valley City State, Northern State, Augustana) were winning events and the majority of those universities were scheduled to compete Friday.
High school athletes from as far away at Atlantic, Iowa to Pierce, Nebraska to Sioux Falls were scheduled to compete Friday in three classes. Those were wiped out.
The same could be said for the pageantry of the event. The Hall of Fame Ceremony involving Megan Glisar-Wegher, Tyler Mulder and Darwin Vande Hoef was also called off.
“I’m sad for the athletes,” said Prince. “It’s one of the chances on this side of the state for a higher level of competition leads to qualifying for Drake and state. That’s an opportunity that’s missed, more so for high school athletes than college.
“Colleges are more flexible. They can react and put meets on. Finding meets and opportunities for high school is more difficult. They’re the ones who suffer more.”