The Cardinal Times

Fall Sports Suspended Due to Wildfire Smoke

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For the second straight year, wildfire smoke has interfered with fall sports practices in Portland.

Firefighters across the Western US have been battling dozens of large fires which, as of Sept. 14, include 236,401 acres of active fires in Oregon. Smoke from California and Washington moved towards Portland during mid-August, blanketing Portland and the surrounding area.

PPS is forced to postpone all outdoor events when the air quality index (AQI) reaches 100, resulting in cancellations of practices across the district on Aug. 14, 15, and 20. Portland’s AQI reached an ‘unhealthy’ level of 159 on Aug. 23 – the second worst rating anywhere in the world at the time.

“I think there is always room for improvement,” said Lincoln’s athletic director Jessica Russell, who believes that students and parents were not notified quickly enough about the cancellations. “We can always do better.”

Cross country, soccer, and football practiced indoors Aug. 21-23 when more smoke moved into the Portland area. One day of soccer tryouts occurred during this time.

“I think we handled it pretty well, especially coach Pablo [Dipascuale],” said senior soccer player Wyatt Jenkerson when asked about the setback. “We made the best of [the situation] and did what we could just to practice.”

The month of August saw Portland’s worst AQI since September 2017, which was the last time that PPS canceled sports due to smoke.

Head cross country coach Suzanne Parry, who has been at Lincoln since 2003, takes the cancellations seriously.

“It’s only the second time in my 15 years of coaching we’ve had smoke issues, and the last time was last year,” said Parry. “It really is a climate change thing; it’s getting to be a much more frequent occurrence.”

 

You can find local air quality ratings here.

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