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OHSAA cancels remaining tournaments for winter athletes

The state will have no 2020 champions for wrestling, basketball and ice hockey.
chaney Brown and McGaughy
Chaney senior Will Brown, left, played his final high school varsity basketball game on March 7, a win over Struthers in the Division II district title game. At right, is his coach Marlon McGaughy. Thursday, the OHSAA announced the official postponement of the remaining winter tournaments. (Photo by Tom Williams).

COLUMBUS  — Two weeks after the remaining winter tournaments were postponed, the Ohio High School Athletic Association announced their cancellation.

Thursday, the OHSAA confirmed that the winter sports tournaments for wrestling, boys and girls basketball and ice hockey will not be completed.

The OSHAA postponed the tournaments on March 12, minutes before the West Branch High School girls basketball team was to play Dayton Carroll in their Division II state semifinal game at St. John Arena at Ohio State University. 

Because of the coronavirus COVID-19 pandemic, the crowd was limited to four family members per athlete and school staff. Later that day, Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine announced a ban of crowds of more than 100. Shortly thereafter, Ohio schools were ordered closed until April 6.

Girls basketball games were scheduled for March 12-14. The state wrestling tournament was scheduled at Ohio State’s Schottenstein Center from March 13-15 and the ice hockey tournament was scheduled at Nationwide Arena in downtown Columbus on March 13-14.

The boys basketball tournaments were in the regional semifinal stage when the postponement was announced. Chaney, in the Cowboys’ first regional game since 2001, was scheduled to play Akron St. Vincent-St. Mary on March 12 at the Canton Civic Center.

Right after Chaney’s game was postponed, head coach Marlon McGaughy admitted frustration but understood the need for safety.

“It’s really what’s best,” McCaughey said. “[The virus] can be spread and we don’t want anyone in danger.”

McGaughy expected the tournaments to be canceled because of the three-week school closure. He said “the hard part” is that his players deserved a chance to compete in such a big game.

In announcing the cancellation, OHSAA officials said they anticipate that schools will not be able to reopen for many weeks. Spring sports (softball, lacrosse, baseball, track and field and boys tennis) are on hold during the school shutdown.

“We are just devastated that the tournaments cannot be completed,” said Jerry Snodgrass, OHSAA executive director. “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,” Snodgrass said. “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,” he said. “Most campuses 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.

No state champions will be listed for these sports. The 16 schools that qualified for the girls basketball state tournament and the four teams that qualified for the ice hockey state tournament will receive state tournament programs printed for those events.

The 672 student-athletes who qualified for the wrestling state tournament will receive a program, certificate and their weigh-in card.

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