By Josh Brown
Miami Valley Today
COLUMBUS — This weekend’s Ohio High School Athletic Association state wrestling tournament will go on — but with some major caveats.
Following a declaration of a state of emergency in Ohio on Monday, Ohio Governor Mike DeWine announced all indoor sporting events in the state at every level — high school, collegiate and even professional — would go on as scheduled, but recommended they do so without the majority of fans in attendance in an effort to slow down the spread of the coronavirus, COVID-19, said a press release from the OHSAA Tuesday afternoon.
“This will be a very difficult time for our schools and fans, but we cannot ignore the directive of the Governor,” OHSAA Executive Director Jerry Snodgrass said in the press release. “We are pleased that our tournaments can continue, and we will soon determine who can attend. However, we can already say that it will most likely be no more than the immediate family of the student-athletes participating in the event.”
The state wrestling tournament is scheduled to be held Friday through Sunday at the Schottenstein Center on Ohio State University’s campus in Columbus. The Schottenstein Center seats 19,409, with the capacity reduced to 18,809 for Ohio State men’s basketball games, officially.
Monday night, Ohio State University announced that it would suspend in-person classes through March 30, with DeWine encouraging the state’s colleges to move classes to online or remote formats where possible.
During a press conference shortly after the official announcement, Snodgrass admitted that the decision was not easy.
“We are emotional,” he said. “The amount of work that our staff puts, we have employees that work diligently every single day to make the experience of a lifetime for our student-athletes. We have some (employees) that have participated in the state tournaments. We have some that have gone on to great things … but they remember their high school days. We’re very emotional about it, too.
“I want our fans, who are the lifeblood of what we do, to understand that. If we could have it any other way … we had our fingers crossed. We were hoping.”
The Troy Christian wrestling team, which qualified eight wrestlers to the tournament and hopes to have a shot at the program’s fifth team championship in Division III, is happy for the chance to compete.
“I was just telling the boys that here’s the bottom line: we always talk about eliminating distractions,” Troy Christian coach Steve Goudy said. “We still have business to take care of, and there’s never been a bigger distraction than this is — but only if we allow it to be. We talk about controlling the controllables. Well, this is out of our control. It definitely stinks, I think, and I feel bad for our kids, especially our seniors, for their friends and extended families not to be allowed to come watch them compete. But it’s out of our control, and we’ve still got business to take care of, still got a state title to go out and win.”
Troy coach Doug Curnes agreed, saying that the wrestlers would find out what kind of competitors they truly are.
“It’s going to be a very different feel, and we’ll find out who does it for the love (of wrestling) and who does it for the glory,” he said. He will be coaching Troy senior Carlos Quintero, who is the Trojans’ first state qualifier since 2014. “Part of the experience of a lifetime is walking out of that tunnel and seeing thousands of people in the stands and hearing that roar, having people who’ve never seen you before cheer for you. It’s going to be a different feel. I do think it takes away from what the kids accomplished, and it’s just unfortunate that this had to happen at this moment.”
The boys and girls regional and state basketball tournaments, as well as the state ice hockey tournament will also be affected, according to the press release. Boys basketball regional tournament games throughout the state scheduled for Tuesday night will be allowed to proceed with fans as normal, but the OHSAA will announce on Wednesday morning how the tournaments will proceed following that. The girls state basketball tournament is scheduled to begin Thursday at St. John Arena. The hockey tournament is scheduled to be held Saturday and Sunday at Nationwide Arena.
Late Tuesday night, the OHSAA released specifics on how many people will be allowed to attend through a new press release.
• Ticket sales
All previously purchased and complimentary tickets for the upcoming state tournaments are now void and new tickets will be sold per the instructions below, per sport, with specific details being sent to the member schools. Tickets purchased online via credit card will be refunded by Ticketmaster to the same credit card. Tickets purchased via check will be refunded in approximately four to five weeks. Tickets purchased with cash at the Ohio State University ticket office can be returned for a refund on-site.
State qualifying student-athletes will each be permitted to designate four family members who will be permitted to purchase all-session ticket books. State tournament coaches will each be permitted to designate two family members to purchase tickets. Tickets will only be sold as all-session ticket books.
• Boys Basketball
Beginning Wednesday, student-athletes on the participating school tournament roster (players and cheerleaders) can designate four family members to purchase a ticket for the game. Coaches for that team can each designate two family members to purchase tickets. School administrators and the bus driver each receive one free ticket for themselves and a guest. Each regional site will work with the participating schools regarding its team list and ticket sales process, which will be cash only at entry.
• Girls Basketball
Student-athletes on the 16 state qualifying teams will each be permitted to designate four family members who will be permitted to purchase single-session tickets at St. John Arena. Coaches and administrators of the state tournament teams will each be permitted to designate two family members to purchase tickets. Tickets will only be sold as single-session tickets.
Student-athletes on the four state qualifying teams will each be permitted to designate four family members who will be permitted to purchase single-session tickets at Nationwide Arena. State tournament coaches and school administrators will each be permitted to designate two family members to purchase tickets. Tickets will only be sold as single-session ticket books.
Contact Josh Brown at [email protected], or follow @TroyDailySports on Twitter.
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