Wisconsin News

Rain delays state track and field meet, floods hotels

Rain delays state track and field meet, floods hotels

LA CROSSE, Wis. (WKBT) - Thousands of people flooded the University of Wisconsin-La Crosse campus Saturday morning for the second day of state track and field meet, and they poured right back out just minutes later.

WIAA officials postponed all events and vacated 10,000 fans just 20 minutes into the start of the day, thanks to the severe weather.

The stadium was put on standby for several hours with events finally starting back up at 4:30 p.m.

Officials estimated the day would wrap up around 11 p.m. Saturday.

Many fans and athletes planned to head home this evening after the competitions had finished, but with so many postponed events going late some families will be forced to stay the night.

Once out of the rain and the announcement was made that the meet would be delayed, spectators and coaches began to realize they might be spending an extra night in La Crosse. Calls began to go out to hotels in the area and rooms filled quickly.

Staying another night in La Crosse wasn't in the plans for most people at the state track meet today.

"We're ready to leave," assistant track coach at PIUS XI High School Kaewon Reynolds said.

"Obviously for us we're ready to get out of here, we're ready to just compete and get back to our respective areas," head track coach at PIUS XI High School Devin Lee said.

Once word spread that the meet would be delayed phones started ringing off the hook at the Super 8 in La Crosse.

"Right now we're on our eighth reservation backlogged," the executive housekeeping manager at the Super 8, Tonya Moser, said.

The hotel said they were able to fill about 15 of its returning guests reservations. Staff were receiving calls from other hotels in the area that are also booked for the night.

"Oh it's a positive, yes, because most of our guests that were staying here have called back to see if they could get back in," Moser.

"We called our hotel back. She said the phone was ringing off the hook, but we were able to get a room," De Pere High School spectator Sonja Vermillion said.

Vermillion traveled from South Dakota to watch the state meet and like other fans scrambled to get a last-minute reservation Saturday night.

"You could tell she was pretty stressed when I called so hopefully they can get it all dialed in, and figured out for everyone and nobody's left out in the rain," she said.

"For the front desk it's been horrendous. They've been on the phone probably nonstop, this is the first time I haven't heard it ring," Moser said.

News 8 checked with many hotels in the area Saturday afternoon and most said their phones have been ringing nonstop, but all were either full or only had a few rooms available.

UW-La Crosse is doing its best to help accommodate coaches and athletes. Coordinators announced the campus would open up its dorms to teams Saturday night, free of charge.

Organizers said in Wisconsin and in this sport, alternative plans have to be in place when severe weather strikes.

"This is part of track, this is the way it goes. We're an outdoor sport, the athletes, the coaches, the spectators understand this is just what happens, and with the spring that we've had and the previous years, this is just another punch we're going to roll with," state Track and Field on-site coordinator Josh Buccholtz said.

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