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CAMP FOSTER, Okinawa – Kubasaki High School’s Spring Fling sports festival, including the Alva W. “Mike” Petty Memorial Track and Field Meet, has been canceled in the aftermath of Friday’s Tohoku-Kanto earthquake, DODDS Pacific officials said Wednesday.

Spring Fling joins the entire DODDS Japan athletics slate for the rest of March on the sideline.

“We can’t depend on the ability of the teams from mainland Japan getting down here, and we have to look at the bigger picture; there are things more important than that,” DODDS Pacific athletics coordinator Don Hobbs said.

“It’s disappointing but understandable,” Kubasaki athletics director and Spring Fling founder Fred Bales said. “In tough times, tough decisions have to be made.”

On another matter, Hobbs said the DODDS Pacific spring athletics directors meeting, scheduled for April 4-5 originally at Yokota but more recently at Kadena, has been postponed indefinitely. It’s at that meeting that much of the DODDS regular-season sports schedules for 2011-2012 would be finalized.

The Petty meet, in its ninth year, was expecting 10 teams from Japan, Korea, Guam, the Philippines and Taiwan. Spring Fling baseball, in its fourth year, would have included Kubasaki and Kadena of Okinawa and Seoul American, and at least one international school team from Tokyo.

“I’m irritated,” Kubasaki junior distance runner Tyeler Cyr said. “I ran it last year and I enjoyed the Petty. It’s great competition to go up against all those schools. But it’s kind of understandable with everything that’s going on.”

“These are the teams that provide us the challenge besides Kadena” in preparation for the Far East meet in May, junior Wesley Williams said.

Petty Meet founder and Kubasaki coach Charles Burns said he has alternate plans in mind. One is to hold an abbreviated meet featuring teams that don’t have to fly through or from Japan to get to Okinawa. The other would resemble another Okinawa Activities Council regular-season meet.

“We don’t want to cancel the season” because of events happening elsewhere, Burns said. “We want to go on. Plan A is out. If they don’t go for Plan B, we’ll go with Plan C.”

This year’s Spring Fling was to have added girls softball and soccer. Nile C. Kinnick of Japan was planning to send its girls soccer team.

Kinnick coach Nico Hindie said his 13 soccer players and track coach Al Garrido’s 21 athletes had non-refundable tickets worth about $500 each purchased by their families.

“We’re trying to figure out how to repay the parents,” Hindie said. “Let’s hope they don’t cancel the rest of the season.”

Hobbs acknowledged that such a cancellation would result in a financial burden on some families, but “we have to put the safety of the kids first. It’s unfortunate, but the call has been made, and with every passing day, things look grimmer and grimmer.”

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Dave Ornauer has been employed by or assigned to Stars and Stripes Pacific almost continuously since March 5, 1981. He served 10½ years in the Air Force, the last 4½ assigned to Stripes in Tokyo, and was then hired by Stripes on Oct. 25, 1985. He covers interservice and high school sports at DODEA-Pacific schools and manages Pacific Storm Tracker.
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