Community: Sports getting back on track after fire

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Unexpected break actually benefits local golf course

By Mike Cote

Rarely is a wildfire good for grass, but in the case of the Los Alamos Golf Course, the Las Conchas Fire could’ve hardly been more beneficial.
The fire, which prompted an evacuation of the town two weeks ago when it threatened to get into the townsite, was just what the doctor ordered for the LAGC vegetation, which was struggling to get into its normal summer condition.
“We were being faced with the worst drought, with the worst wind and with the worst winter. You talk about three strikes,” said LAGC head professional Donnie Torres.
However, because the course’s normal foot traffic was absent, course crews were able to water just about as much as they wanted to and the holes, particularly the greens, healed up quite well.
Actually, most activities that were disrupted due to the fire and the impending evacuation around Los Alamos County are starting to get back to their regular routines.
County facilities such as the golf course and Larry R. Walkup Center are now back on their normal operating schedules. Other county activities in the future are still set to go off as planned.
Several events around Los Alamos, most notably the Atomic City Invitational golf tournament and the Firecracker 5K race, both of which happen on or around Independence Day, were postponed.
The ACI was postponed for the second time since 1954, the other postponement was due to the Cerro Grande Fire in 2000. Torres said it was possible the ACI could rescheduled for later this summer.
William Hill, sports director at the YMCA, said the Firecracker 5K is tentatively scheduled for Aug. 13, the same week as the county fair. Hill said 88 competitors signed up for the event prior to Los Alamos’ evacuation June 27, but the majority of runners usually sign up in the last few days before the race.
Hill said, however, the Aug. 13 date had hardly been set in stone, but he was hoping to have the race on a Saturday regardless of the final date.
The regular season schedule for the local slowpitch softball league was also interrupted due to the fire.
The league, which includes around 600 players from Los Alamos, Española, Pojoaque and even Santa Fe, had to postpone nearly 50 games due to the evacuation.
League president Nick Degidio said he was able to reschedule the missed games, however. Games will be played on Fridays, a day the league normally doesn’t play, and during various other open dates the league had on its 2011 schedule.
“It is a headache (to reschedule), but that something that everyone looks forward to,” Degidio said. “It’s a worthwhile effort to reschedule the games.”
The first set of makeup games will take place Friday night and the field conditions at Overlook Park, where the slowpitch contests are held, were very good upon the teams’ return to action last week.
Degidio said that, much to his surprise, he’s had virtually no complaints from team representatives about the revised schedule.
“Folks want to play these games,” he said. “It’s a recreational league and it’s a social event. In the context of a social event, you talk with your friends, that kind of thing. It’s been a lot of fun to watch, really.”
Other events starting up again include the Atomic City Roadrunners’ weekly Pace Race, which was Tuesday, and the Los Alamos Triatomics, which held a Splash N Dash training session Wednesday night.
The Splash N Dash is to help multi-sport athletes prepare for the upcoming Los Alamos Triathlon.
The adult and kid versions of the triathlon are set for Aug. 20 and 21. The county’s recreation division manager Randy Smith said things are still a go for the remainder of the summer.
“Once we got our staff back into place, we knew we’d provide those services and get the community back to normal,” he said.
Even the popular weekly recreational event Movies in the Park was up and running again Wednesday. Smith said last week’s movie would’ve gone on as scheduled, as well, except a thick cloud of smoke drifted into town and the movie was called off just a few minutes before it started.
As for the golf course, it will still host the City Championship, although Torres said the dates could possibly be altered from July 23-24. Also, LAGC is slated to host the state women’s amateur championship Aug. 8-11.
There was only one other potential wrinkle LAGC could face and that was its watering schedule. Torres said watering will begin sometime between 7:30-8 p.m. and continue through 7:30-8 a.m.