Wrestling Championship postponed amid fears of pandemic

Cody Allgor | Staff Writer

Every year, high school wrestlers work towards a trip to the state tournament for a successful finish to their seasons.   

This year, The Ohio High School Athletic Association (OHSAA) wrestling state tournament was set to take place on March 13th through the 15th. That was until the OHSAA announced that all winter tournaments were indefinitely postponed due to the coronavirus pandemic. The Mason Comets had two Wrestlers who qualified for the tournament, and are now unable to compete; juniors Dominic DiTullio, and Owen Amburgy.

The announcement to push back the tournament until further notice was made only a day before it was slated to begin. First-year Comet Head Coach Nicholas Maffey led the Comets to a GMC championship and had eight wrestlers qualify for the district tournament, and Maffey said that DiTullio and Amburgy were preparing for the state tournament the day the news broke loose.

“Both Owen and Dominic were in the wrestling room already dressed for practice, working to prepare for what they thought might just be a few day postponement,” Maffey said. “The coaching staff brought them in to the office, explained the situation in more detail and explained to them that we were proud of the obstacles they had each overcome to be where they are today.”

Amburgy earned first-team Greater Miami Conference (GMC) honors for the second time in his career and is also a GMC champion in his weight class. Amburgy said that the news was upsetting in the beginning but eventually sank in once the reality of the situation hit him.

“I was upset at first,” Amburgy said. “But once I realized that I couldn’t do anything to prevent it I was more accepting of the fact that I couldn’t go to state and compete.”

Before becoming a Comet, Maffey was a coach for the Middletown Middies. Maffey said that this is unusual territory for him, but it was the right decision for the safety of wrestlers, coaches, and anybody attending the tournament. 

“We are in unprecedented territory,” Maffey said. “This hasn’t happened in my 15 plus seasons of coaching. I absolutely agree with the decision and it was also addressed with the team – these events are bigger than one tournament.”

Throughout the year the Comets participate in a variety of tournaments and events, all working up for the chance to display themselves at the state tournament. Amburgy said that not being able to participate in the state tournament is like he never had the chance to perform where it mattered most.

“This season without wrestling in the state tournament for us was like not being able to fully prove what we could do,” Amburgy said. “Every other tournament is just a warm-up for state so it’s like we just warmed up all year and never got to actually perform.”

The state tournament is yet to be canceled, but the probability of it happening is dwindling. Maffey said that even though there might not be a tournament, DiTullio, Amburgy and the rest of the team were still successful this year, and every high school wrestler should be proud of the effort they put in this season.

“Whether the outcome is a state tournament or not, these two and the rest of the team were successful,” Maffey said. “We were able to put together many individual and team titles throughout the season but more importantly, we became better people, better teammates and learned to navigate the life of being high-level student-athletes.”

Photo by Mia Sweitzer.