Weather cancels Carnival of Speed

Mac-Hi's annual track and field extravaganza is over before it even begins as high winds, torrential rain

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Sheets of water blow across the track at Shockman Field Friday morning as Stanfield long-distance runners Hector Hernandez, left, and Garth Mavis fight to keep their footing in the midst of a wind-driven, pelting rain that canceled the annual Carnival of Speed

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A WWVA trackster looks out from her rain-speckled, misty window at the deluge on Shockman Field that turned this year's Carnival of Speed into a Carnival of Cold Friday.

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With the WWVA Knights track squad huddled in the background awaiting word of meet cancelation, Umatilla's Josiah Zitterkob, left, and Emanuel Chavez warmed up for the 4x100 relay Friday before the Carnival of Speed was canceled.

MILTON-FREEWATER - Heavy rains, gusty winds and the threat of worse to come put a damper on Mac-Hi's Carnival of Speed at Shockman Field Friday.

The track meet was canceled before the first event got started, for the first time in its 72-year history.

"For as many years as I've been involved in this event, this was without a doubt the worst weather we've ever had," said Mac-Hi track coach John Milleson. "It's been rainy or windy before, but we've always been able to get it in. Well, not this year."

Although the storm lightened a bit a few hours after the event was called off, it never was nice enough outside for the throwing events or hurdles, Milleson said.

"At the time we canceled it, that was the prudent thing to do," he said. "That was the safest, smartest and best thing."

It meant that 23 of the 24 teams which had arrived quickly turned around and got back on their buses.

As teenagers fought with wet rain gear and bus drivers fought with the wind, coaches brought down tents and the hot chocolate was poured for free.

"Look at this," Milleson said, as students scurried to put away pole vault pads and other gear. "The coaches got together and we said there's no way to justify this. We can't put the kids out here and pretend like we're having fun."

Since no events started, the meet did not count in official record books and all of the teams will be able to schedule another meet.

Oregon track teams are limited to 12 meets prior to regionals, and for Mac-Hi - and many of the other teams - this gives them another weekend to run.

"It just means we've got a week without a meet, and we can reschedule another," he said.

Milleson wasn't sure Friday if the Carnival of Speed will be rescheduled. There are 10 weeks left in the season, and organizing another 24-school event won't be easy.

"We're going to take a look at our schedule and see if we can host one, and hopefully that will coincide with most of the teams being able to come back," he said.

But it doesn't look especially likely, he added.

"There are 10 weeks left in the season and we've got nine meets, and most of the other schools are as busy as we are," Milleson said. "Trying to have another Carnival will be hard."

For the teams that got back on the bus for a return trip home, some as far away as Moscow, Idaho, and others just up the road in Athena or Walla Walla, it was a necessary letdown.

"The weather conditions weren't at all conducive to providing safe conditions," Milleson said. "That was the safest and probably the best thing for everybody."

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