Category Archives: Sports

OHSAA’s Winter Sports State Tournament Info & More

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COLUMBUS, Ohio – The Ohio High School Athletic Association Board of Directors held its regularly scheduled January meeting Thursday morning. The following are highlights from the meeting. Complete meeting minutes will be posted at OHSAA.org.

The Board was updated by the OHSAA staff regarding the upcoming winter sports tournaments, with adjustments due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The previously established sectional tournament draw meeting dates will stay the same, along with the dates of the state tournaments. 

o   SWIMMING AND DIVING: The state tournament will remain at C.T. Branin Natatorium in Canton Feb. 24-27, but the format will be adjusted to remove preliminary sessions in swimming and complete each division in one day (timed finals) and allow a minimal number of people on the pool deck. The Division II girls swimming and diving finals will take place on Wednesday, Feb. 24, followed by Division II boys on Thursday, Feb. 25, Division I girls on Friday, Feb. 26 and Division I boys on Saturday, Feb. 27. Two spectators will be permitted for each diving state qualifier, while only one spectator will be permitted for each swimming state qualifier. Also of note, several sectional and district tournaments do not yet have a pool confirmed to host the event.

o   GYMNASTICS: The state tournament will remain at Hilliard Bradley High School March 5-6, but the format and some traditional aspects of the state tournament will be adjusted, along with reduced number of spectators.

o   BOWLING: The state tournaments will remain at Wayne Webb’s Columbus Bowl February 26-27 (Division II) and March 5-6 (Division I). The number of bowlers on qualifying teams will be reduced from eight to six bowlers per the COVID-19 Guidelines established in the fall. The number of spectators permitted is still to be determined. 

o   ICE HOCKEY: The state tournament venue is to be determined, as it is not yet known if Nationwide Arena will be able to host the event. Also of note, the two district tournaments in Northeast Ohio will both be held at the Brooklyn Recreation Center instead of having one tournament at Kent State University, which is not able to host the event. Spectator limitations are to be determined. 

o   WRESTLING: The state tournament will not be held at the Schottenstein Center, which is not able to host the event this year. The OHSAA is seeking three high schools, preferably in Central Ohio due to travel considerations, to each host a division. The district and state tournaments will include split sessions, with seven weight classes competing at a time, followed by a break and then the other seven weight classes. Spectator limitations are to be determined.

o   BASKETBALL: The regional and state tournament sites are all to be determined. It is not yet known which of the previously announced sites will permit events to be held at their venue, or which will allow spectators. The OHSAA intends to use neutral sites for the regional tournaments  

–         The board approved the 2021 football regulations, which include adjustments due to the 2021 regular-season beginning a week earlier so that the playoffs can be expanded (as announced in May 2020:https://www.ohsaa.org/Sports/News/ohsaa-to-expand-football-playoffs-in-2021). Of note, schools may fulfill two of the required five acclimatization days in July in advance of official practice beginning on Sunday, August 1. Two scrimmages will be permitted between August 6-14. Either or both of the scrimmages may be conducted as jamboree games. The first Friday of the regular-season is August 20 and the regular-season will conclude on October 23, followed by six weeks of playoffs instead of five weeks (top 12 teams in each regional will qualify for the postseason).

–         The board tabled a proposal from the Ohio Association of Track and Cross Country Coaches (OATCCC) to expand the track and field tournament to four divisions. At this time, the OHSAA’s focus is to conduct the 2021 season and tournament series, as a number of issues still need to be discussed regarding a potential expansion to four divisions. The site of the 2021 state tournament is still to be determined.   

–         Per OHSAA Constitution Article 6-1-9 (temporary suspension of strict compliance due to the COVID-19 pandemic), the board ratified a modification to waive the OHSAA scholarship bylaw for the remainder of the 2020-21 school year and the start of the 2021-22 school year, meaning all student-athletes are eligible insofar as OHSAA academic standards are concerned. Individual schools are permitted to maintain their own minimum academic standards for student-athletes.

–         The Board reviewed the list of recent infractions by OHSAA member schools. Since the Board’s last meeting, consequences were issued to four schools for violations of OHSAA bylaws or sports regulations. The list of infractions will be included in the complete Board meeting minutes posted at OHSAA.org.

–         The board approved Joe Siefke, Superintendent of Lisbon Exempted Village School District, to serve as an interim Class A representative on the Northeast District Athletic Board.

–         The board approved recommendations for the 2021 OHSAA Naismith Award for Meritorious Service to Mary Jo Huisman from the Southwest District and the late Dave Young from the Southeast District.

Bucks & Cats To Play For BIG 10 Title

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The Big 10 voted to place Ohio State in its football championship game after meeting Wednesday. The comes the day after Michigan was forced to cancel their game with the Buckeyes Tuesday due to a high number of COVID-19 cases in its program.

In a release by the BIG 10 Conference on its twitter page: “The decision was based on a competitive analysis which determined Ohio State would have advanced to the Big Ten Football Championship Game on its undefeated record and head-to-head victory over Indiana regardless of a loss against Michigan.”

Chillicothe HS Names Athletics Hall of Fame Class for 2020

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The Chillicothe High School Athletics Hall of Fame Committee announces the 2020 Class of new inductees into the Chillicothe Athletics Hall of Fame. The class is made up of four individuals and one recognized with the Award of Merit.

Those inducted into the Athletics Hall of Fame include:

Rey Bradley, an educator for 35 years and former longtime Chillicothe Teacher, Coach and served as Athletic Director before his death in 2011. He was a graduate of Virginia State College.

Heather Rose Beamer, a 2003 CHS graduate Heather was All-Ohio in 2002 finishing 4th in the state and was the 2002 Ohio Junior Girls Golf Champion. She golfed collegiately at Michigan State University where she’s listed in the Top-10 best stroke total all-time.

Anthony “Humpty” Hitchens, a 2008 CHS graduate and 1st Team Division II All-Ohioan, 2008 Southeast District Player of the Year and a member of the 2008 Ohio Division II State Boys Basketball Champions. Hitchens played basketball at the University of Akron and James Madison University.

Seth Dawes, a 2009 graduate and All-Ohioan, Four-time All Southeast District and 2009 SEOAL MVP in Baseball, and a member of the 2008 Ohio Division II State Boys Basketball Champions. Dawes played baseball at Xavier University.

Recognized with the Award of Merit for his longtime contributions to Chillicothe Athletics as football and basketball scoreboard operator, Scott Merrill.

Chillicothe High School Athletic Director Mike Barren indicates a recognition ceremony is tentatively scheduled to be held on the night of January 30, 2021 in connection with the CHS boys basketball game with St. Charles Prep School.

A Visit with Terri Tutt, Commissioner of the Frontier Athletic Conference

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Frontier Athletic Conference Commissioner, Terri Tutt, visited with Litter Media’s Dan Ramey to discuss the pandemic’s affect on the Winter Sports season and the dilemma facing the Chillicothe Cavaliers seasons being suspended until January 5, 2021.

Tutt talks about the pandemic and its affect on the FAC and compares the wide spread postponements with the blizzards of the 1970s.

Much like in the fall, winter sports’ regular season games can be played right up to the week of the state championships.

Tutt also discusses the rescheduling Chillicothe will need to do because of suspending their seasons and the potential difficulties placed on swimming and bowling if fitness centers are closed,

Tutt shares what she learned from the FAC schools’ handling of the Fall Seasons and upcoming conference discussions.

RCHD’s Recommendation to Schools Regarding Sports & Extra Curricular Activities

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November 20th, the Ross County Health District released an open letter cautioning citizens about the amount of new COVID-19 cases reported to the Health District offices (484 since November 1st and over 700 in October) and the deaths of 56 residents due to the coronavirus as a concern for a potential increase in hospitalizations. “We face an uncertain future with a decrease in hospital capacity and limited staffing” stated the letter.

This week, RCHD made a recommendation to the county school districts regarding youth sports and extra curricular activities. In a release (see below) to local schools Wednesday, RCHD recommended “the postponement of winter youth sports games/competitions and extracurricular activities for schools in our jurisdiction. This recommendation is a mitigation strategy aimed at reducing the severity and lowering harm. This is a not a cancellation, but a postponement to help get us through the holiday season.”

Of Ross County’s districts, only Chillicothe City Schools took the RCHD’s recommendation, suspending athletic competitions and extra curricular activities until January 5, 2021.

By placing their seasons on hold, Chillicothe High School and Middle School Athletic Departments have begun rescheduling games. CHS AD Mike Barren told Litter Media Wednesday afternoon he’s rescheduling as many of the games he can, with priority given to the games in the Frontier Athletic Conference. At the varsity level, that means the Boys and Girls Basketball teams will miss the entire first round of FAC play, five games each, plus six non-conference Girls games, four Boys games, ten Bowling matches, six Swim Meets and two Wrestling Meets.

RCHD explained “We certainly understand the impact of our recommendations, but the health district is looking at the totality of the situation. Case counts are just one factor that we must take into consideration when formulating our recommendations. Outpatient visits, emergency department visits, hospital admissions, and Intensive Care Unit bed availability in our region are all reaching critical levels. We do not make this recommendation lightly but do so to help reduce the spread of COVID-19 within our schools and communities.”

The recommendation is effective immediately and will last until January 1, 2021.

“At that time, we will reassess the situation and evaluate the data to determine whether the recommendation shall continue” stated the release. “This is not an order, but a recommendation and it has been made in consultation with our school leaders.”

Chillicothe City Schools Suspends Athletic Competitions & Extracurricular Activities Until January 5

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Chillicothe City Schools have put a hold on activities until January 5, 2021.

In a statement from CCSD Superintendent Debbie Swinehart:

“District leaders continue to work closely with the Ross County Health District to assess the various risks facing our students and staff.

“Based on recommendations announced today for school athletics, we are suspending all athletic competitions and extracurricular activities, effective immediately until January 5, 2021.

“Unlike other local school districts, our teams often travel outside Ross County to compete. This puts our athletes and coaching staff at a greater risk of exposure and has the potential to further the spread of the virus across our communities. 

“All official games and scrimmages will be postponed and rescheduled for a time when our teams can safely compete together. Practices and skills training in small groups will continue for current CCSD athletes, and our coaching staff will be strictly enforcing all screening and safety protocols, including temperature and symptom checks and increased sanitization of all athletic facilities.

“While this was a difficult decision to make, prioritizing health and safety must be our shared commitment for our school community.”

RCHD Commissioner Garrett Guillozet tells Litter Media he’s met with the superintendents of the county school districts with recommendations regarding school activities and that they come to a consensus. The other districts agreed to move forward with the limiting tickets to two family members per participant, no food concession service and an increase in mask wearing compliance.

Guillozet reaffirmed this was only a recommendation, not a health order.

In a statement made by the Ohio High School Athletic Association Wednesday afternoon “The decision for schools to move forward with sports is a local decision. Schools may certainly choose not to participate in a contest or to pause their season(s) for a period and should do what is in their best interest. The OHSAA believes that our member schools provide student-athletes with the safest possible environment to continue participating, and we all recognize the educational, physical and mental health benefits of participation.”

In a text conversation with Terri Tutt, the Commissioner the Frontier Athletic Conference in which Chillicothe participates, Tutt conveyed to Litter Media “The FAC is committed to giving a priority to league games.” At the time of our exchange, none of the other FAC members had changed their commitment to participating in their scheduled games.

Parents Only: OHSAA Makes Statement on Governor’s Recommendation

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COLUMBUS, Ohio – Following Governor Mike DeWine’s remarks during his news conference on Tuesday (Nov. 24), the OHSAA, in conjunction with the Governor’s Office, recommends that schools restrict attendance to only the parents of the participants, or eliminate all spectators, for their winter sports competitions through December 31, 2020, due to the recent spike in COVID-19 cases.

“We want to follow this recommendation so that our kids can continue to compete,” said OHSAA Executive Director Doug Ute. “We believe it is crucial that parents be permitted to attend the contests of their children, but large crowds at our indoor athletic contests are not a good idea at this time. We all need to work together to give our kids and schools the best chance at having a full winter season.” 

Schools will determine the process for how parents will attend athletic contests, such as how many are permitted and where they will be placed to watch the contest. 

Regarding media coverage, the OHSAA asks schools to still permit media coverage of their contests, but the number of media attending should be restricted to those who regularly cover the teams involved. Schools are encouraged to provide live video streaming of their athletic contests for those who cannot attend.

The OHSAA provided the following recommendations for member schools:

·        For those schools that decide to admit parents, list the names of the parents on a roster sheet that is located at your ticket window/admission table. This will help clarify who should/should not be admitted and will hopefully eliminate non-parents from attending.

·        Limit media to those who normally cover your school and consider utilizing a streaming service in order for fans to view your contest(s).

·        There is no prohibition on cheerleaders and pep bands, but schools should make their own decisions on these students’ participation and should strongly consider not sending cheerleaders to away contests.

As administrators were notified last week, the OHSAA winter sports seasons are moving forward as planned. That decision was made after the Executive Director’s Office had discussions with the Governor’s Office, the OHSAA Board of Directors and numerous administrators combined with the results of the membership survey in which 56 percent of the 1,464 respondents recommended that the OHSAA begin all winter sports contests as they are currently planned and scheduled.

The decision for schools to move forward with sports is a local decision. Schools may certainly choose not to participate in a contest or to pause their season(s) for a period and should do what is in their best interest. The OHSAA believes that our member schools provide student-athletes with the safest possible environment to continue participating, and we all recognize the educational, physical and mental health benefits of participation.

OHSAA Gives Go Ahead for Winter Sports

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NOTE: This story has been updated to include Friday morning’s release by the OHSAA.

The Ohio High School Athletic Association has given the go ahead for schools to participate in their respective Winter Sports Seasons.

In a report by Scott Springer of the Cincinnati Enquirer and Cincinnati.com, there will be COVID-19 protocols in place similar to those for the 2020 Volleyball Season in gymnasiums across the state.

According to the report, the OHSAA received approval from Governor Mike DeWine’s office Wednesday.

The Ohio Department of Health Order allows for 300 fans or 15% capacity fo the venue, whichever is less. Just like during the Fall Season, the normal protocols are in place for athletes testing positive for COVID-19.

For Basketball, expect spectators to be limited to parents of participants, which includes teams, cheerleaders and pep band members. 15 players will be permitted on the roster with 18 chairs available for all staff and six feet between those on the bench. It’s also suggested for teams traveling on separate buses for freshmen, junior varsity and varsity games with those buses departing following their contest.

Wrestling will follow similar distancing practices for their benches.

Locally, swimming presents some difficulties with tight spaces at the respective YMCA pools used for area schools, but they should be able to work around the parameters put in place. Only McClain HS has a natatorium among the area schools. However, swimming would likely suffer should the Governor’s office to close fitness centers. The same could be said for area high school Bowling teams should bowling centers receive a shutdown order.

Chillicothe’s Brandon Noel prepares for a dunk in their Cavs’ tournament win last February.

FROM THE OHIO HIGH SCHOOL ATHLETIC ASSOCIATION (released November 20, 2020)

COLUMBUS, Ohio – In a memo to its member schools on Wednesday, the Ohio High School Athletic Association reaffirmed its position that the upcoming winter sports seasons will begin as previously scheduled. While individual school districts can pause sports at any time due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the OHSAA does not intend to alter the statewide season dates.

The decision came after discussions with the Governor’s Office, the OHSAA Board of Directors, OHSAA staff and many school administrators, along with the results of a recent survey of OHSAA member school administrators. Of 1,464 survey responses 826 respondents (56 percent) voted to begin winter sports as previously scheduled.

“Though we are seeing a spike in COVID-19 cases in Ohio, the majority of our member schools want the opportunity to move forward with winter sports as planned,” said OHSAA Executive Director Doug Ute. “As always, the decision to play sports is a local school decision and there will certainly be schools that pause sports for periods of time in the months to come, but if the majority of our schools want to move forward, then we want to provide that opportunity. As we have said previously, our member schools provide our student-athletes with the safest possible environment to participate. If we were to delay, students would find opportunities to compete in sports through non-school programs that may not be focused on safety and are not education-based.”

The survey results showed 33 percent of school administrators favored delaying winter sports until early January, and 11 percent voted to delay winter sports indefinitely until statewide COVID-19 conditions improve.

Noting the Governor’s Curfew Order

As it relates to school sports, the Governor’s 10:00 p.m. Ohio curfew order does not mean that teams and fans must be home from their competitions by 10:00 p.m., but venues must be vacated by 10:00 p.m. The OHSAA encourages schools and conferences to alter start times, if needed, so that competitions end in time to close the facility by 10:00 p.m.

COVID-19 General Guidance (Including Mandates; Spectator Capacity, and Recommended Best Practices)

All mandates in the Ohio Department of Health Director’s Sports Order must continue to be followed for winter sports. Here is a link to the Health Director’s Sports Order: https://bit.ly/2RWa1jh. In addition, here is a link to the Health Department’s Responsible RestartOhio guidance document for sports: https://coronavirus.ohio.gov/static/responsible/Youth-Collegiate-Amateur-Club-Pro-Sports.pdf, and here is a link to the ODH’s Responsible RestartOhio guidance document for sports venues: https://coronavirus.ohio.gov/static/responsible/Youth-Collegiate-Amateur-Club-Pro-Sports.pdf

It is especially important that requirements for facial coverings, social distancing and frequent hand washing be followed and that facility hosts disinfect and clean competition and high contact areas frequently. Also note that the Order has a limit on spectator capacity, which is the lesser of 15 percent of fixed, permanent seats or 300.

Winter Sports Requirements, Recommendations and Modifications

The OHSAA staff has developed sport-specific requirements, recommendations and modifications for schools when conducting interscholastic competition in winter sports. Links to the sport-specific requirements, recommendations and modifications for winter sports are available here:

Basketball: http://bit.ly/BKRecs                                    

Bowling: http://bit.ly/BORecs

Gymnastics:  http://bit.ly/GYMRecs                             

Ice Hockey: http://bit.ly/IHRecs

Swimming & Diving: http://bit.ly/SDRecs                    

Wrestling: http://bit.ly/WRRecs

A Visit with Sgt. Joe Lawhorn, Pro Cyclist

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He’s a fixture on the highways and byways of Southern Ohio, head into the wind, pedaling against the clock, with a carriage for his son in tow.

Chillicothe’s Joe Lawhorn of Team Dayton Cycling, spent 12 years serving his country during Operation Iraqi Freedom and Operation Enduring Freedom, first in the US Marine Corps, then another six years in the US Army.

A broken back forced Sgt. Lawhorn into retirement. Rehabilitating from the injury, he rediscovered cycling.

Litter Media introduced viewers to Lawhorn for a video project promoting the Tour of Ross County Heroes, a fundraising cycling event in 2019 to assist the Chillicothe VA Medical Center’s Veterans Bike Program, which Lawhorn is a peer volunteer assisting the program’s director Matt Cox, a US Army veteran. The two were friends at Unioto High School before the attacks on 9/11 in 2001.

Lawhorn tells of his cycling experiences, transitioning from a runner to a cyclist and its rewards. He also recounts the emotional ride into Chillicothe during the grueling 3,000-plus mile Race Across America and how cycling has helped him connect with veterans.

Selecting the roadways for the Tour of Ross County Heroes was easy because the were routes used in his training each day. Lawhorn also talks about a special stretch of roadway he always visits near Southeastern Local Schools, the gravesite of his friend Aaron Reed who was killed in action in Iraq.

What’s ahead for 2021? Lawhorn recently posted on his facebook page, an attempt to chase 500 miles in 24 hours and breaking the Trans-Ohio record, traveling from Pennsylvania to Indiana… then turning around and going for “a double”.

The interview below is unused footage from an conversation with Lawhorn in preparation for the 2019 Tour of Ross County Heroes ride.