COLUMBUS, Ohio — State championship pursuits by high school basketball, hockey teams and wrestlers will not reach a conclusion this year.
The Ohio High School Athletic Association announced Thursday that it has canceled its winter sports championships. The OHSAA initially placed an indefinite suspension two weeks ago with the hopes of resuming the tournaments amid the coronavirus pandemic that has swept through the country.
“We are just devastated that the tournaments cannot be completed,” OHSAA executive director Jerry Snodgrass said in a statement. “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.”
Spring sports remain in a postponed status.
This decision stops the boys basketball tournaments at the regional level with a week-and-a-half left in its season. Girls basketball, wrestling and ice hockey were slated to have their state championship events between March 12 and 15 at various venues in Columbus. Snodgrass announced the indefinite suspension on March 12, when the state girls basketball semifinals were set to begin at St. John Arena.
“We are already planning for ways that these student-athletes will be honored at next year’s state tournament,” Snodgrass said.
This year’s stoppage marks the first time the OHSAA has seen cancellations since 1941 through ’45 during World War II. They mark the only cancellations in the history of the OHSAA since 1907.
A week ago, Snodgrass said he hoped to make an immediate decision on the status of this year’s winter championships.
“I think it’s imperative that we have to and cannot procrastinate,” Snodgrass said then. “I do not want to lead people on and give them false hope.”
State lawmakers passed legislation on Wednesday that waives testing requirements and report cards for this school year, allowing high school seniors to graduate if their school determines they were on track to do so.
A handful of area programs remained active in their pursuits of state championships:
• Boys basketball: Holy Name, Lutheran East, Mentor, Richmond Heights, Shaker Heights, St. Edward, St. Vincent-St. Mary and Warrensville Heights.
• Girls basketball: Cornerstone Christian and Elyria Catholic.
• Ice hockey: Gilmour and St. Ignatius
Plus, 627 wrestlers throughout the state were set to compete for individual championships in their sport.
All of their seasons have concluded without a final result.