WASILLA — The Mat-Su School Borough School District has cancelled all outdoor activities scheduled for today due to the poor air quality caused by smoke from the wildfires burning in Southcentral Alaska. The Anchorage School District has also cancelled its scheduled outdoor activities today.
The cancellations include all outdoor practices, activities and events. The list also includes a full slate of Friday night games for the second week of the prep football season. Houston was scheduled to host Eagle River, Dimond was set to play at Palmer and North Pole was slated to hit the turf at Wasilla. School officials at Houston, Palmer and Wasilla were scrambling Friday afternoon, working on contingency plans with the hope of rescheduling those games for Saturday.
“We’re working on logistics,” Houston High activities director Norm Bouchard said just after the district officially cancelled Friday’s games.
With Houston’s close proximity to the McKinley and Deshka fires currently burning in the Willow area, Bouchard said he has been closely monitoring the air quality numbers throughout the week. Earlier this week, with the air quality poor, Houston had a preliminary plan in case the game had to be moved. Thursday, the air quality greatly improved and the Houston football team was able to practice outside. But winds in the area shifted overnight, and things quickly changed Friday.
“Woke up this morning and it was socked in,” Bouchard said. “We’re kind of in a holding pattern.”
Palmer activities director Dale Ewart said Palmer High is also trying to reschedule its game against Dimond. Ewart said there is potential the game could be at Palmer or Dimond. But there are several factors at play, including the air quality and the availability of officials.
“We’ll move home to away, anything we can do,” Ewart said.
At Wasilla High, a scheduled home game against North Pole was moved to the Interior. The Warriors will now play Saturday at 2:30 p.m. North Pole.
"It's the option of wait on the weather and roll the dice or go to North Pole and actually get a game in," Wasilla head coach Ken Ottinger said.
Mat-Su Borough School District and Anchorage School District officials will address the air quality again on Saturday morning, and will announce whether activities will go on as scheduled. That will also determine whether any of the games cancelled Friday can be rescheduled for Saturday.
That announcement will also impact prep cross-country running. After the Tsalteshi Invitational in Soldotna was cancelled, Chugiak High School quickly organized a meet at the Birch Lake Trails.
The cancellation of the Tsalteshi meet was part of a big announcement made by the Kenai Peninsula School District earlier in the week. The district cancelled multiple football games and the running meet due to the Swan Lake Fire, which has been burning on the Peninsula throughout the summer.
Redington’s home game against Homer was among the games cancelled by the Kenai district.
This is a developing story. Continue to see frontiersman.com for more.
Contact Frontiersman managing editor Jeremiah Bartz at firstname.lastname@example.org.