COLUMBUS – In a move many feared could happen, but no one wanted to believe would, the Ohio High School Athletic Association announced Thursday that the winter sports tournaments of wrestling, basketball and ice hockey are now cancelled due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
The OHSAA just couldn’t wait any longer.
“We are just devastated that the tournaments cannot be completed,” OHSAA Executive Director Jerry Snodgrass said in a press release. “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 campuses are shut down until mid to late summer and we are already planning for ways that these student-athletes will be honored at next year’s state tournament.”
Olentangy Berlin’s Evan Butcher, a freshman, was set to compete in his first state wrestling tournament. He’ll have another chance down the road. His teammate, senior Corey Hill, will not. Either will Delaware Hayes’ Tristan Burton, Emmett Cain, Corbin May, Mason Sutandar and Nathan Robinson, Olentangy Liberty’s Lucas Uliano and Big Walnut’s Max Lenz.
Uliano and May were returning state placers. Both finished seventh in their respective brackets in 2019 — Uliano at 126 and May at 182 — and entered this year’s showcase with a combined record of 75-6.
The Pacers’ Clay Ours (junior) and Patriots’ Hunter Ford (junior) and Dylan Russo (freshman) also qualified.
The tournaments were postponed indefinitely on March 12, along with the start of the OHSAA’s spring sports. The softball, lacrosse, baseball, track and field and boys tennis seasons are still postponed as of now, which coincides with schools not being open.
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.
This year’s 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.
Coaches can communicate electronically with their student-athletes, but no practices, scrimmages or contests of any kind are permitted until further notice.
More information regarding spring sports will be provided when available.