COLUMBUS — The Ohio High School Athletic Association announced last Thursday (March 26) that the winter sports tournaments of wrestling, basketball and ice hockey, which were postponed indefinitely on 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.
The decision ended the season and high school careers for three county wrestlers, two who qualified for state for the first time and the other a state runner-up from the previous season.
National Trail’s Peyton Lane, the state runner-up at 138 pounds in Division III last season, ends the season with a 35-1 record at 145 pounds.
Trail coach Bobby Clark said he is disappointed Lane won’t get the chance to compete for a state title.
“I’m upset. We had that small chance of hope that it wouldn’t be canceled but deep down knew that our chances were slim,” Clark said. “I personally feel like Peyton was going to walk into the state tournament and prove himself to everybody. I know he’s upset. He’s spent three quarters of his life on a wrestling mat training and now it’s all over without the ending he was hoping for and not being the one to control that. Peyton ended his senior year with a record of 35-1, which is more then impressive for anyone to do. Next up is baseball, or at least I hope so.”
Eaton’s KeAnthony Bales and Zac Schmidt were also looking to make noise at the state tournament.
Bales finished the year with a 30-14 at 152 pounds. Schmidt, a state-alternate last season, completes his season with a 36-8 record at 160 pounds.
“I’m disappointed to say the least,” Eaton coach Nathan Islamovsky said. “As I said before, we work all season with our guys for them to make it to state. I understand the seriousness of this disease and that logically this is the right way forward but that doesn’t make it any easier for us or our guys. Zac and KeAnthony are both seniors and have never gotten to wrestle at state. For them to earn their way into that tournament and not get to compete is heartbreaking, but as I’ve told them we have to be selfless and understand that what they did this season can not be taken away from them they had fantastic seasons and should be proud.”
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.
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.
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.
More information regarding spring sports will be provided when available.
Reach Eddie Mowen Jr. at 937-683-4056 or follow on Twitter @emowen_RH