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Cross-country state meet could face single digit temperatures

A year after the New York State Federation cross-country meet was canceled because of a snowstorm in Dutchess County, runners are expected to face bitter cold at Saturday’s New York State Public High School Athletic Association championships in Plattsburgh.

State officials say they continue to monitor the weather with temperatures expected in the low teens when racing begins. Bitter cold temperatures also are expected in Alden for the state field hockey semifinals Saturday, in Brockport for the Far West Regional in football; and in Cortland, where the Clarence girls soccer team is playing in the Class AA state semifinals.

The state will use its wind chill guidelines to determine whether an event is in danger of cancellation, a spokesman said. The guidelines call for the wind chill to be checked one hour before an event if the air temperature is less than 39 degrees. If the wind chill is less than 10 degrees at that point, it will be checked again at halftime or the midpoint. If the wind chill is measured at -11 degrees, the event is suspended.

A wind chill caution is issued for readings from 20 to 39 degrees with a wind chill watch issued from 10 to 19 degrees and a wind chill warning from -10 to 9 degrees. When the warning is issued, organizers can consider postponing or altering the time.

Earlier this week, the state cross-country championship meet chairman issued a directive requiring all competitors to wear hats and gloves and there was to be no uncovered skin except the face. That was later rescinded because the rules do not allow for mandatory guidelines. Instead, state officials are strongly recommending gloves, hats, ear protection and long sleeves and leggings. The fieldhouse at SUNY Plattsburgh near the course also will be open to allow athletes to stay warm when they are not racing.

Barker field hockey coach Jeff Costello said the bigger concern this week was the snow rather than the cold because he wanted his team to be able to get a practice outdoors.

"Our players will be ready for the cold," he said. "We just would like to get out in the weather to get acclimated to it. We've been telling them since the first week of practice to always be ready for all kinds of weather and surfaces so in a situation like this just bring gloves and plenty of blankets."

The WNY Maritimes/Health Sciences football program also is embracing the cold and snow in advance of their game Saturday in the Class B Far West Regional against Livonia.

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