COLUMBUS — The Ohio High School Athletic Association announced Thursday that the winter sports tournaments of wrestling, basketball and ice hockey, which were postponed indefinitely March 12, are now canceled 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,” an OHSAA news release said.
The spring sports of softball, lacrosse, baseball, track and field and boys tennis are still postponed.
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,” Snodgrass said. “But our priority is the safety of our student-athletes, coaches, communities and officials. Gov. 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,” Snodgrass said.
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 cards.
These four winter state tournaments and a few events during World War II (1941-45) are the only sports cancellations in the history of the OHSAA, which was founded in 1907.
Lima Senior (Division I), Ottawa-Glandorf (D-III), Columbus Grove (D-IV) and Parkway (D-IV) had reached the regional finals, and Shawnee (D-II) was scheduled to play in the regional semifinals in boys basketball. Many area wrestlers, including six from Allen East, had reached the state tournament. Minster had made the D-IV state semifinals in girls basketball.
“This was not the news we had hoped to hear, but we realize how tormented the directors must have been while arriving at this decision,” O-G boys head basketball coach Tyson McGlaughlin post on Facebook. “Though terribly disappointed, we have to accept that the 2019-2020 basketball season has officially ended. We thank the fine young men on this year’s team whose goal was to be crowned state champions. This dream will not become a reality, but not because they were beaten by a better team. They won 25 games and were playing their best basketball of the year when the coronavirus terminated the season. We are proud of the guys and appreciate the many thrills and highlights they provided this season. These boys were not only great players, but even greater representatives of Ottawa-Glandorf High School. The leadership displayed will assist younger boys in our communities to become solid Titan performers. Again, we thank and congratulate the players for a great season and agonize with them when in the future these two dreaded words surface: ‘What if?’”
Seniors on the O-G roster included Jarrod Beach, Parker Schomaeker, Hayden Dean, Ethan Alt, Ben Westrick, Kamron Maag and Aaron Rieman.
“I was truly hopeful we’d get the opportunity to make history,” Lima Senior coach Quincey Simpson posted on Facebook. “I’m pretty messed up over it. We worked extremely hard. Tough to even imagine. To my seniors: Dante Wheeler, Josiah Sanchez (Fulcher), Jadakis Mack, Dasan Clair, Jermaine Daniel, Tavion McLaurine, Jawan Anderson, Jamir Simpson and Caymein Durr I love you all. I truly do. I’m sorry your last year of high school had ended this way. I truly want to express my thanks to all of you, and your families, for allowing me to coach you.”
Columbus Grove seniors included Evan Hopkins, Owen Macke, Tanner Smith and Alex Schneider. Parkway seniors included Gavin Stober, Corey Walls, Kendall Roof, Ryan Hesse, Jason Luth, Nick Hawk and Caleb Kinney. Shawnee seniors included John Barker, Will Roberson and Matthew Bean. Minster seniors included Averi Wolf, Mara Schmiesing and Lauren Mox.
Area seniors who reached state in wrestling included Van Wert’s Gabe Steyer, Wapakoneta’s Evan Kaeck, Allen East’s Garrett Neth and Brennan Davies, Bath’s Zachary Simpson, Kenton’s Noah Eikenbary and Lima Central Catholic’s Chase Caprella.
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.
The release also reminded OHSAA coaches that they can communicate electronically with their student-athletes, but no practices, scrimmages or contests of any kind are permitted until further notice.
Reach The Lima News sports department at 567-242-0451.