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Tom Mix, Published August 22 2012

Summer-like temps keep focus on player hydration

Fargo - The heat wave that has kept most of the region dry and humid the last several months appears to be sticking around a little while longer.

While the fall sports season has already started in North Dakota, the weather forecast for today and Friday is not exactly fall-like.

Temperatures are expected to reach near or above 90 degrees today and Friday, which has given some concern to student-athletes set to participate in outdoor athletic contests during that span.

WDAY forecasts today’s high at 86 degrees.

Fargo Shanley hosts Grand Forks Red River at 7 p.m. today in an Eastern Dakota Conference boys soccer match. Deacons head coach Michael Breker said the recent spike in heat hasn’t affected his team too much, but is still being cautious by having his team take extra water breaks and stretch for an allotted amount of time after practice has concluded.

Fargo South plays Fargo Davies at 7 p.m. today in boys soccer, and Bruins head coach Dean Hashbarger has been prepping the team for warmer temps.

“During practices, we give them plenty of water breaks,” Hashbarger said. “We just got to make sure we get plenty of fluids tonight and during the course of the day (today). During the game, obviously, we will keep an eye on them, and if they look like they are fatiguing, we sub them out and get them water.”

Several water break intermissions were called during Tuesday’s 9-man football game between Wyndmere-Lidgerwood and South Border – a co-op school that includes Ashley and Wishek, N.D.

That method isn’t anything new to Hashbarger.

“We have gone halfway each half and just said if both coaches are agreeable, at the 20-minute mark, let’s just stop and have a two-minute water break and continue to play,” Hashbarger said. “A lot is going to be dictated by how hot it is (today) and how humid it is. It may be something we ask for.”

Friday is expected to reach 92 degrees. That will mean very balmy football openers across the region.

Fargo South hosts Bismarck Century at 5 p.m., and three other metro games – Bismarck at West Fargo, Fargo Davies at Fargo Shanley and Kindred at Fargo Oak Grove – are slated for 7 p.m.

“The thing you fear about the most is cramping,” Shanley head coach Rod Oksendahl said. “Usually cramping comes from kids being dehydrated. We got to make sure the kids are hydrating themselves starting tonight.”

Oksendahl said he anticipates officials to be on top of the heat concern on Friday.

“Normally they will come up to us during pregame game and ask, ‘Do you guys want to have a drink break halfway between the first and second quarter for water?’” Oksendahl said. “Obviously, if we can get a break anytime we can get it, we are going to take it. If they don’t bring it up, we will definitely bring it up.”

The heat has been especially unkind to the local cross country scene.

“The first week of practice it was in the 70s and just perfect running weather,” Fargo North head girls cross country coach Aaron Walker said. “The kids could go a long time without getting overheated.”

That all changed when humid weather returned on Tuesday.

The Spartans conducted their practices at 8:30 a.m. all of the preseason, but now has to transition to afternoon runs with school starting today.

Walker said it is all about getting acclimated and making adjustments this time of year.

“Heat is the No. 1 enemy of a runner,” Walker said. “We always emphasize to hydrate early in the day and stay hydrated throughout the day. As far as our training, when we get hot days like (Tuesday), we either slow down our pace or shorten our mileage.”

Readers can reach Forum reporter Tom Mix at (701) 241-5562