Editor’s note: The following story was filed from Columbus Thursday afternoon by retired Journal-Tribune sports writer Bob Putman.
Putman was at The Ohio State University’s St. John Arena to help work at the girls high school state basketball tournament.
Ohio High School Athletic Association executive director Jerry Snodgrass has decades-long association with high school student-athletes.
But Snodgrass, who spent more than 30 years as a teacher, coach and athletic director, had not experienced anything like he did Thursday as the OHSAA was prepared to begin its 45th state girls basketball tournament.
“This is the toughest day of my career,” Snodgrass said of the OHSAA’s decision to postpone the tournament about 15 minutes before Dayton Carroll was to tip off against Beloit West Branch in the first game of the Division. II tournament.
The postponement came because of the growing situation with the coronavirus COVID-19.
The announcement was made after state and local officials recommended that no public gatherings take place to help stop the spread of the virus.
Snodgrass knew this was an “opportunity of a lifetime” for the 16 teams in four divisions that had qualified to win a state title.
However, the overall picture of what is going on around the United States and the world proved to be what ultimately led to the postponement.
“We have been taking advice from the Center for Disease Control and the Ohio Department of Health and it is all about safety and health,” Snodgrass said.
In addition to cancellation of the girls basketball tournament, Snodgrass announced the postponement of the individual state wrestling tournament, the state ice hockey tournament and the regional and state boys basketball tournaments.
“We realize this is disappointing for our participants and their fans, but the overall health and safety of everyone involved in our tournaments is our priority,” he said.
Dresden Tri-Valley was scheduled to play Napoleon in the second game on Thursday and arrived at Ohio State University’s St. John Arena about the same time the announcement came of the postponement.
Tri-Valley coach Kurt Kaufman had a hard time putting in words what the postponement meant to him and his players.
“I can’t really express it in words,” he said.
Kaufman did add a sentiment that probably mirrored those of all the coaches.
“Our kids have put in the effort and have worked so hard,” he said. “They don’t get a chance to showcase what they have built.”
“I know how much the teams have invested,” Snodgrass said. “It is an emotional drain we all have.”
Asked if it was possible the tournament could be played at a later date, Snodgrass would not rule anything out of the possibility.
“We will use this time to work with the appropriate state authorities and health experts to determine our next steps moving forward,” Snodgrass said. “We’ve already begun looking at the spring sports. It is a moving target, but we want to be prepared.”
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