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OHSAA says winter sports are finished

COLUMBUS — The West Branch girls basketball team was in the Division II Final Four, and the Chaney boys were ready for a Division II regional semifinal on March 12.

There were 17 area wrestlers who advanced to state, going to take to the mats on March 13 at the state tournament in Columbus.

Winter sports tournaments of wrestling, basketball and ice hockey were postponed indefinitely by the Ohio High School Athletic Association due to the spread of the coronavirus (COVID-19).

Thursday, the OHSAA canceled all winter sports due to the COVID-19 pandemic. West Branch finished the season 24-3, while Chaney ended its campaign 19-6.

It is anticipated that schools will not be able to reopen for many weeks, which prevents interscholastic athletics from taking place.

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. More information regarding spring sports will be provided when available.

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.”

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.

OHSAA coaches can communicate electronically with their student-athletes, but no practices, scrimmages or contests of any kind are permitted until further notice.

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