The four area high school boys basketball teams looking to advance to state and the local wrestlers vying for a state championship will have to wait for the opportunity that might never occur after the Ohio High School Athletic Association issued a statement that the remaining winter tournaments are immediately postponed due to the growing situation with the coronavirus (COVID19).
According to the OHSAA release, the suspended tournaments include the girls state basketball tournament, the state individual wrestling tournament, the state ice hockey tournament and the boys regional and state basketball tournaments.
Terry Schnipke, Columbus Grove athletic director, said the school is looking to deal with the suspension of the boys regional and state basketball tournaments. Columbus Grove was slated to play Friday against Parkway in the Division IV regional championship game at Bowling Green for a shot at making it to the final four in Columbus.
“It is unfair to our student athletes,” Schnipke said. “We are a small school and this comes around about every 15 years and of all years this happens. It is like a punch in the stomach, and it takes the air out of you.”
Schnipke added that he, like the rest of the teams, will have to sit and wait to see if the tournaments resume, but added he is not optimistic about that prospect.
Allen East’s wrestling head coach Mike Abbey said he and his wrestlers are in a state of shock. The Mustangs were going to have six grapplers competing at state this weekend.
“I think the kids are handling it better than the coaches,” Abbey said. “It is hard to tell our seniors about this. Garrett Neth is 44-1 and was looking to become a state champion and now this. The reality is all hitting us pretty hard.”
Abbey said they will hold a meeting tonight to discuss further options and hopes the tournament will come back at some point. But, like Schnipke, he is not expecting that to occur.
Shawnee athletic director Steve Owen said this is devastating for the boys basketball team, which was scheduled to play in a regional semifinal against Upper Sandusky on Thursday night at Bowling Green. He was finalizing some details concerning the game when he was alerted to the postponement.
“It’s tough,” Owen said. “My heart just sunk. These are great kids and they want to finish the journey and I don’t think that is going to happen.”
OHSAA executive director Jerry Snodgrass said in a statement, “We will use this time to work with the appropriate state authorities and health experts to determine our next steps moving forward. We realize this is disappointing for our participants and their fans, but the overall health and safety of everyone involved in our tournaments is our priority.”
During a press conference on Thursday, Snodgrass said, “It’s all about that (health and safety). We’re never going to do something to discount that, just to go on for the money, just to go on for the event, none of that. We have to do what’s right. Trust me, if anybody knows that’s a tough decision to make, I do now. We serve student athletes. We’re not letting them down. The situation might be, but we’re not.”
The OHSAA said no timetable has been determined for possible rescheduling for the tournaments.The announcement was made after state and local officials recommended that no public gatherings take place to help stop the spread of the virus.
The OHSAA will send further updates regarding ticket refunds.
Reach The Lima News sports department at 567-242-0451.