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Fall rain spurs mudpit makeovers around city

By Nate Langworthy

Post-Bulletin, Rochester MN

Unseasonal amounts of rain have school and Rochester Park and Recreation grounds crews working extra this year.

"It’s fairly obvious that the weather and traffic has taken its toll," said Rochester Park and Recreation maintenance chief Steve Lawson about the city’s many youth soccer and football fields.

Watson Field in northwest Rochester and the athletic fields at the Fuad Mansour Complex near Rochester Community and Technical College’s Heintz Center are the sites that have been most damaged by the combination of rain and cleats.

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The damage was even greater, and the stakes higher, last week at Century High School’s sports complex.

"When we got out there Tuesday, the fields were very uneven," said Century activities director Mark Kuisle.

And it was too late to improve the grounds. So the Century football team had to abandon its home-field advantage in a game against Mayo High School. The game was instead played at John Marshall High School’s stadium.

While all of Century’s fall field sports are now done for the year, the school often plays host to events from outside organizations. About 40 games are played on the football field each year.

Notably, Rochester Lourdes had to make other arrangements for Saturday’s Section 1AA quarterfinal football game, which was played at John Marshall.

Meanwhile, Century groundskeepers rolled the football field and practice fields flat. The process is like taking a rolling pin to a pizza crust, only the roller is smaller, in scale. Actually, the roller is 8 feet wide and 2 1/2 feet in diameter and is hooked behind a riding lawnmower.

Just about midfield, the lawnmower "kinda sorta got stuck," Kuisle said.

If the football field was bad, the practice fields were much worse, due to four or five days of use each week.

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Park and Rec has also rolled its fields, though "we are hesitant to do that because it compacts the soil," Lawson said. "There’s a threshold where you have to do it for safety reasons."

Park and Recreation typically aerates the athletic fields each year to loosen the soil and get oxygen down to the soil and grassroots.

With the fields tended to, Park and Rec and Century plan to go about business as usual with their field maintenance routine. This includes reseeding the grass in the fall and filling in the low spots with dirt. In the spring, they will reseed and water throughout the summer to get ready for the football and soccer season.

They should be set to go, just as long as April showers do not hold off until the summer is over.

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