The attendance for session five of last year’s OHSAA Individual Wrestling State Tournament, which included the championship finals, was 12,195.
Overall, the three-day event drew 54,797 fans to Value City Arena.
This year, though, the vibe will be much, much different. In an attempt to stop the spread of coronavirus, Ohio High School Athletic Association (OHSAA) commissioner Jerry Snodgrass said spectators will be limited.
Snodgrass said Tuesday’s announcement stemmed from Gov. Mike DeWine’s suggestion that all sporting events in the state, from high school to the pros, should be contested without most spectators in the stands.
“This will be a very difficult time for our schools and fans, but we cannot ignore the directive of the governor,” Snodgrass said in a press release. “We are pleased that our tournaments can continue and we will soon determine who can attend. However, we can already say that it will most likely be no more than the immediate family of the student-athletes participating in the event.”
Delaware Hayes wrestling coach Kevin Rieman, who will bring six state qualifiers with him to the state showcase, which is slated to start Friday, said the setting will most certainly be strange, but the approach will be the same.
“I think our focus and mentality stays the same,” he said. “We talk all the time about ignoring the hype and just competing. It’ll definitely be a year we’ll remember.”
The announcement won’t just impact wrestling, either. The OHSAA release said Tuesday’s boys basketball regional games could be played with fans in attendance, but a decision will be made in the coming days as to how the tournaments will proceed going forward.
The state girls basketball tournament is slated for Thursday through Saturday at Ohio State’s St. John Arena, the state wrestling tournament will run Friday though Sunday at Value City Arena and the state hockey tournament is set for Saturday and Sunday at Nationwide Arena.