Around 5:30 p.m. Monday, the Free State Invitational track meet should have been in full swing.
Instead, FSHS coach Steve Heffernan was stuck in an aluminum storage shed next to the track, tallying the results of the events completed before a thick dose of nasty weather sent the teams scurrying for bus seats.
"We got a bolt of lightning, everybody's hair stood on end and they were out of here," Heffernan said over the pounding of heavy rain on the shed. "We got a little more than half the events in, so right now we're happy with that."
Maybe that's because the Firebirds are no strangers to rainouts -- weather has not cooperated for four of their seven scheduled meets this year.
"It's just rained an incredible amount of rain," Heffernan said.
Recent rain showers have been especially frustrating since the team encountered virtually no weather-related problems during preseason practice.
Free State has faired well in its three meets, but the frequent cancellations have left Heffernan wondering just how good his team is -- some have only competed twice this season.
"It's hard to know where some of the kids are at," he said. "Some of them are still trying to figure it out, too. It's a little easier to deal with today because we didn't have any kids who were completely rained out. They at least got into one event."
And they'll have plenty of opportunities for more in the next few days. Partly because of rescheduling, Monday was the first in four meets for the Firebirds this week.
Free State travels to Manhattan for a meet today, which Lawrence High will also compete in.
"If we can avoid the rain, this week will hopefully help a lot in figuring things out," Heffernan said. "We'll just have to wait and see how the weather works."
Before Monday's rain, Free State tracksters won eight of 18 events.
Josh Kennet won the 110 meter high hurdles in 17.3 seconds; T.K. Peterson took the 100 meter dash in 11.1; Chris Ostrander high jumped 5-10 for the gold; and Sam Engleman's 9-6 pole vault was tops for the boys.
On the girls' side, Jackie Putnam won the 100 meter dash in 13.4 seconds; Alyssa Humbarger's 94 foot javelin toss placed first; Anna Harvey long jumped 13-5.5 and pole vaulted seven feet for two golds.