Skies over North Jersey turned a hazy shade of yellow Wednesday afternoon, a result of smoke migrating south from Canadian wildfires.
For the local high school baseball teams preparing to play in this weekend’s NJSIAA finals, that was a sign to proceed with caution.
“We’re moving practice inside,” Don Bosco coach Mike Rooney said.
Both the Ironmen and St. Mary are scheduled to visit Veterans Park in Hamilton for the Non-Public A and B title games on Thursday, while the public-school finals are lined up for Saturday.
“Rumors are starting to swirl about the game,” Rooney said roughly an hour before his team’s 2:15 p.m. Wednesday practice. “But nothing definitive as of now.”
This came three hours after the state’s athletic association released a statement with regard to the deteriorating air quality in the Garden State: “[The] NJSIAA is closely monitoring air quality data across New Jersey and local/state health advisories. As start times for athletic events draw near, we will make decisions for each venue and sport based on currently available information. Schools should monitor official NJSIAA communications only for updates and understand that all schedules are subject to change.”
NJSIAA executive director Colleen Maguire opened the organization’s 11 a.m. executive committee meeting by saying, “We are optimistic that things will start to trend better tomorrow based on the reports.”
The state boys tennis finals began at Hamilton’s Mercer County Park on Wednesday morning, and Maguire anticipated the event finishing by 5 p.m.
Impact so far
The Weehawken softball team hosted the Group 1 semifinal Tuesday afternoon against Cedar Grove, and smoke filled the air at Waterfront Park as the game went on.
“I don’t think it impacted the game,” Indians coach Raquel Roder said. “I do remember thinking after the Cedar Grove home run, as I was walking back in the dugout, ‘Great, now what is on fire?’ And thinking maybe the building next to us was on fire, and they might need to postpone the game.”
The contest on the banks of the Hudson River continued to completion, as Cedar Grove advanced to Saturday’s Group 1 final with a 3-1 win.
Meanwhile, Mount St. Dominic of Caldwell was practicing amid the conditions for Friday’s Non-Public A final. All of the NJSIAA softball title games are slated to take place at Kean University in Union.
“The smell made me think, ‘Hey there must be a fire nearby’,” Mountain Lions coach Rob Stern said, “and then the wind picked up, like [in] The Wizard of Oz.
“We practiced with no issues, but it was different, for sure.”
Darren Cooper contributed to this report.