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Wiest

Tuesday felt like summer in Bismarck and Mandan.

Unfortunately, it appears things are headed south quick.

Forecasts have a wintry cocktail of snow, wind and cold bearing down on the region putting athletic administrators in a bind.

Mandan activities director Mark Wiest is on the front line. Wiest will serve as tournament manager for the state soccer tournament, which is scheduled to begin on Thursday at noon at Starion Sports Complex in Mandan. Already, the tournament has been moved from Dacotah Centennial Park's grass field to the turf at Starion.

"We're kind of in a holding pattern across the state right now," Wiest said. "We're trying to be as patient as we can in regards to the storm because any decision can affect a lot of teams, players, coaches and families.

"We want to make the right decision based on as much information and facts as possible."

As of late Tuesday, forecasts were beginning to sync up with snow showers expected to begin Wednesday night and continue through Saturday. Depending on the track of the storm, as much as a foot of snow could be dumped on the area. Temperatures are expected to plummet, with howling wind making things worse.

"Those certainly are not optimal conditions for outdoor activities," Wiest said. "When you're talking about the state soccer tournament, that's a big event. The athletes and coaches deserve to play in what you'd consider to be at least reasonable conditions. You don't want to put them in miserable conditions, and of course, unsafe playing conditions."

Wiest said working through different scenarios with his fellow ADs and the North Dakota High School Activities Association will begin in earnest today.

"One of the things I really enjoy about this job is working with the other ADs and high school activities people," said Wiest, who had great success as a basketball coach at Jamestown High School and the University of Jamestown prior to becoming the AD at Mandan. "We all get along really well and have open lines of communication. We all have the same goal and that's to do what's best for the kids."

One option that appears to be off the table is pushing the tournament back a week, which would conflict with the North Dakota Council of Educational Leaders Fall Conference, commonly known as teacher's convention. State law prevents tournaments from being played that weekend.

If a full-blown winter storm is unleashed, many events will be impacted. The state tennis tournament is in Grand Forks. A full weekend of high school football is on tap. The West Region cross country meet is scheduled for Saturday in Jamestown. Many area volleyball teams are supposed to be headed to Fargo for the big midseason tournament there. College-wise, the University of Mary will be hosting its homecoming activities.

On top of that, with the storm expected to be a monster size-wise, almost every corner of the state is in the strike zone.

"Unfortunately, it's a really busy weekend with a lot of moving parts and a lot of people involved across a number of different communities," Wiest said. "It's one of those situations where you know it's probably going to be tough to make everybody happy.

"It'd be really nice if we get lucky and it doesn't end up being too bad, but we'll definitely be ready with contingencies in place to try to make the best of whatever ultimately happens with the weather."

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Reach Tribune sports editor Dave Selvig at (701) 250-8246 or david.selvig@bismarcktribune.com

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