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OHSAA sticking with tentative plan for 2020 spring sports

WARMING UP — Catholic Central’s Luca Connor warms up before a game against Conotton Valley on March 23, 2019. -Joe Catullo

COLUMBUS — The Ohio High School Athletic Association has a tentative plan in place for spring sports.

The key word, however, continues to be tentative.

Executive Director Jerry Snodgrass informed the more than 800 member schools late Wednesday afternoon that, pending schools’ resumption on May 4, the spring sports seasons in Ohio can commence on May 9. But, he also informed the membership if Ohio were to take the similar step that surrounding states such as Indiana, Michigan and Pennsylvania did and closes schools until August, that “spring sports will be canceled in Ohio.”

Without a final decision rendered, Snodgrass and his team needed to take a proactive approach.

Under the newly released calendar, the state tournament in baseball would be held from June 19-21, while softball will be staged from June 25-27, and track and field would run from June 26-27.

On Thursday, OHSAA announced the state tournament sites. Baseball and softball will remain in Akron at Canal Park and Firestone Stadium, respectively. Track and field will be broken up into three sites, with Division I competing at Hilliard Darby, Division II at Pickerington North and Division III at Westerville North.

“On the front end, returning to school is the main thing. On the back end, availability of sites is the main thing,” Snodgrass said through text.

Should they begin, the seasons would be quite condensed. Baseball teams would have one week to play before sectional tournament drawing, and softball would be afforded two weeks. The postseason is scheduled to begin in baseball on May 23, and softball goes a week later.

OHSAA pointed out in its correspondence with the schools that regular-season games, should they wish, can continue throughout the tournament even after elimination.

With the dates set, Snodgrass and his staff, which has been working remotely for the last couple of weeks because of the coronavirus pandemic, are now shifting focus to other logistical matters.

“Most of the issue with the sites (for the events) are simply due to other restrictions that may leave places closed,” Snodgrass said.

For instance, the state track and field championship is traditionally held at Jesse Owens Memorial Stadium in Columbus. Because Ohio State University has shut its facilities down, OHSAA had to look elsewhere.

With that came additional logistical questions, such as is there a venue big enough to hold all three divisions competing together? Or, would the divisions have to be separated into three different venues?

With those being no and yes, respectively, and now the venues set, additional questions remain like dealing with enough officials? And, since some schools are different divisions for boys and girls, how would a separate meet affect schools that have one coach?

All are issues that OHSAA has thought of and is working to address in time, but the answers aren’t definitive enough to announce, according to Snodgrass.

“We have continually advised schools that nothing we do may be ‘normal’ and there would have to be a great number of concessions made,” he said.

There also are possible site issues that are being worked through in baseball, too. That’s why that season is actually set to crown its state champions one week ahead of softball and track.

An option that does exist that schools seldom utilize for obvious reasons is the ability to opt out of tournament participation. Snodgrass actually believes the number of schools that take advantage of that could grow significantly this spring in certain sports.

While working on all of these steps, Snodgrass and OHSAA remain in “constant contact” with Gov. Mike DeWine’s office, as well as the Ohio Department of Education and State Superintendent of Schools Paolo DeMaria about future steps.

“It’s a good relationship right now,” Snodgrass said.

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