The Ohio High School Athletic Association announced Thursday that the winter sports tournaments of wrestling, basketball and ice hockey, which were postponed indefinitely on March 12, are now cancelled due to the coronavirus COVID-19 pandemic. It is anticipated that schools will not be able to reopen for many weeks, which prevents interscholastic athletics from taking place.
The start of the OHSAA’s spring sports of softball, lacrosse, baseball, track and field and boys tennis is still postponed, which coincides with schools not being open.
Earlier Thursday, OHSAA Executive Director Jerry Snodgrass and his staff communicated with the schools that were still competing in those winter tournaments to announce the decision.
“We are just devastated that the tournaments cannot be completed,” said Snodgrass. “But our priority is the safety of our student-athletes, coaches, communities and officials. Governor Mike DeWine is asking all Ohioans to do everything they can to stop the spread of this virus. That request, along with our schools not being able to reopen for weeks, means that school sports cannot happen at this time. Even if our schools reopen this spring, it will be difficult to find facilities willing to host the tournaments. Most campus are shut down until mid to late summer.
“We are already planning for ways that these student-athletes will be honored at next year’s state tournament,” said Snodgrass.
The 16 schools that qualified for the girls basketball state tournament and the four teams that qualified for the ice hockey state tournament will all receive state tournament programs. The 672 student-athletes who qualified for the wrestling state tournament will all receive a program, certificate and their weigh-in card.
These four winter state tournaments and a few events during World War 2 (1941-45) are the only sports cancellations in the history of the OHSAA, which was founded in 1907.
No state champions will be listed for these four sports in 2020. The OHSAA does not use state polls from the media or coaches associations to determine state champions.
Seven Morrow County wrestlers, as well as their coaching staffs and fans, are most impacted by this cancellation locally. They are:
Northmor senior Conor Becker (170, 30-0), the defending state champion at his weight class in Division III. He won titles at the district, sectional and KMAC meets and was a four-time state qualifier. He won one match as a freshman at state before finishing third as a sophomore and claiming a state title as a junior.
Northmor senior Gavin Ramos (132, 41-8). After placing third at districts, first at sectionals and first in the KMAC, he would have competed in his second state meet. He placed eighth as a sophomore.
Northmor sophomore Niko Christo (152, 43-7). He was second at districts and sectionals and a KMAC champion. Last year, he qualified for state as a freshman and won one match.
Northmor senior Austin Amens (145, 38-8). He placed second at districts, second at sectionals and first in the KMAC on his way to advancing to his first state meet.
Northmor senior Dale Brocwell (106, 21-8). After placing fourth at districts, third at sectionals and second in the KMAC, he would have been in his first state meet.
Also in Division III, Mount Gilead junior Andy Williamson (170, 45-5) advanced to his first state meet after finishing second in districts and sectionals and winning a KMAC title.
Competing in Division II, Highland senior Christian Miller (152, 31-11) made it to his first state meet this year. He was third in districts, second in sectionals and also placed second in the KMAC meet.
• A reminder that OHSAA coaches can communicate electronically with their student-athletes, but no practices, scrimmages or contests of any kind are permitted until further notice.
On March 13, Snodgrass sent this memo to member schools: https://www.ohsaa.org/news-media/articles/ohsaa-winter-and-spring-sports-update
More information regarding spring sports will be provided when available. On Monday, Governor DeWine announced that schools would now be closed until at least May 1 — an extension of his earlier tentative deadline of April 6.
Information received from the OHSAA and added to by Rob Hamilton.