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Wrestlers search for hope

When the Ohio High School Athletic Association called the West Branch and Dayton Carroll girls basketball teams off the floor about 15 minutes before the tip of the state girls basketball tournament on Thursday afternoon at St. John Arena, it also meant the pause button had also been pushed on the state wrestling tournament.

Acting to assist in the prevention of the spread of coronavirus COVID-19, Ohio High School Athletic Association commissioner Jerry Snodgrass announced that all winter sports tournaments were suspended indefinitely including the state wrestling tournament, girls state basketball tournament, boys regional and state basketball tournaments and state ice hockey tournament.

The word that the wrestling tournament would be put on hold started circulating around 1 p.m. Thursday.

Beaver Local’s seven wrestlers that were set to compete at state — Cole McComas, Logan Ours, Mark Emmerling, Devon Salsberry, Skyler Lasure, Logan Krulik and Daniel Wirth — were called into the school office to explain the situation.

The boys were set to practice after school and then a parade was to see them off to Columbus at 5 p.m. Those plans were axed. The state tournament was to be held Friday through Sunday at the Schottenstein Center.

“We didn’t expect it because we thought it was too late for the state to do anything about it,” Beaver Local coach Johnny McComas said. “It was a shock to all of us, but when we met with the team we kept everything positive.”

McComas thought the practices in the run-up to the tournament had gone well and the team was set to have a great weekend, but now like most sports in the United States, everything is on hold.

Instead he’s holding out hope that the tournament will be held in the coming weeks.

“Our kids had a lot of momentum going into the tournament and we’re going to have to keep them ready,” McComas said.

The Beaver Local coach said he had no indication of when the state tournament might be held, but believed his wrestlers would be able to practice in the meantime.

“If there’s a positive to come out of this, we have some wrestlers banged up, so maybe they’ll have a chance to be healthy if the tournament gets held,” McComas said.

None of the Beaver Local wrestlers in the state tournament play a spring sport. so if there is access to the Beaver Local facility in the coming three weeks the schools will be closed the team should be able to ramp up training if needed.

Salem coach Andrew Hart was packing his bags when he got the word that his son, Caiden, would not be competing in his first state wrestling tournament.

He then had to battle over the phone to get the cost of his hotel room refunded.

“We finally did get it, but I heard some coaches did not get a refund,” Andrew Hart said.

Hart said he was not caught off guard by the decision because of everything that had gone down during the week, but it was still a tough reality to accept.

“He’s heartbroken,” Andrew Hart said. “He was wrestling so well and was excited to be going. I thought he could make some noise at the tournament.”

Hart is not as optimistic that the tournament will be able to held in the future.

“It’s going to be extremely difficult,” Andrew Hart said. “Guys are going to need mat time and they’ll probably have to find that at alternate locations. Maintaining weight will also be hard.”

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