A popular high school cross country meet in the Flathead has been canceled due to wildfire smoke. It’s not the only high school sport facing adverse impacts from poor air quality.
The Flathead Invitational is a big event. More than 700 students from 29 high schools and 20 middle schools were registered to race the grassy course at Rebecca Farm in Kalispell. But Bryce Wilson, Flathead High School’s activities director, says there will be no race this Friday.
"I want our students to be safe, and I know even when it's good conditions, you have kids that come across the cross country finish who have just exerted every last bit, and I would just hate for somebody to have impact because of the air quality," Wilson says.
Air quality in the Flathead Valley crept to "Very Unhealthy" levels Wednesday and Thursday, as smoke from fires in and all around the valley blanketed the area. Wilson says Flathead High’s cross country, football and soccer teams have been training inside most of the week, sharing space with the volleyball team. He says some games have already been canceled.
"So we've canceled a freshman football game today. We canceled a freshman football game on Monday. We also had boys and girls soccer going down to Missoula today to play, and both of those games have been canceled."
Wilson says the school may end up scheduling games at neutral sites in eastern Montana to escape the smoke in the western part of the state.