Fortress Obetz, a 50-acre multi-purpose complex on the Southeast side of Columbus, committed to hosting the OHSAA Cross Country Championships for the next five years.

by Cassie Mattia

Columbus, Ohio – Over the past several weeks many Ohio High School athletes and coaches have been awaiting updates on when they can start up team instruction and competitions again. Last week OHSAA provided several updates on both future competitions and the no-contact ban for Ohio’s High Schools giving hope to many dedicated coaches and athletes across the state.

Loveland High School Athletic Director Brian Conaster said that he received the up-date from OHSAA but is proceeding cautiously before making decisions or announcements to his coaches and athletes. “I am waiting for more clarification and guidance from the OHSAA and other state and local bodies later this week. Once I have this, I can then make a more informed statement,” he said.

New venue for State CC Championships

Fortress Obetz is a multi-purpose sports and entertainment complex in Obetz, Ohio. Its bleacher system holds 6,500 people. Including standing room for events such as concerts, Fortress Obetz can hold nearly 20,000 people. It opened in 2017 on the site of the former Columbus Motor Speedway. Google image of Fortress Obetz

On April 29th, OHSAA announced that Fortress Obetz, a 50-acre multi-purpose complex on the Southeast side of Columbus, committed to hosting the OHSAA Cross Country Championships for the next five years. Last Wednesday, Director of Communications, Tim Stried sent out a press release describing the Fortress Obetz facility.

“The Ohio High School Athletic Association cross country state championships are moving to Fortress Obetz, a 50-acre multi-purpose sports complex with a 6,500-seat grandstand located in Obetz on the southeast side of Columbus, OHSAA Executive Director Jerry Snodgrass announced Wednesday.

Fortress Obetz opened in 2017 on the former site of the Columbus Motor Speedway. The racing that will now take place there in early November represents one of the largest high school cross country events in the country, with more than 11,000 fans.

Jerry Snodgrass gives the State Champion Div. I Women’s Soccer trophy to Loveland in this 2017 Loveland Magazine file photo

Of significance, much of the course will be visible from the 6,500-seat grandstands, which will lead to a greater experience for fans and participants.

‘We can’t wait for our student-athletes and Ohio’s entire cross country community to experience the state championships at Fortress Obetz,’ said Snodgrass. ‘This facility is so impressive, from the course layout for the competitors to be more spectator-friendly for the fans and we are thrilled to sign a five-year agreement. We would like to thank National Trail Raceway for hosting the state championships for the last nine years and doing an outstanding job as our host.’

Fortress Obetz was built to host sporting events, concerts, festivals, and more. It was the home of the Ohio Machine professional lacrosse team from 2017-19. The facility has five video boards, concessions, restrooms, and a huge parking lot.

‘The Village of Obetz is extremely proud and excited to partner with the OHSAA,’ said Steve Adams, National Director of Athletic Operations and Facilities Promotion. ‘We feel our Memorial Park and the Fortress is perfectly suited for the OHSAA Cross Country State Tournament. We have created a safe and challenging course for the runners and kept the spectator experience in mind as well.’

The grandstand includes 1,100 flip-down seats, 2,000 bench-back seats, and 3,400 bleacher seats.

OHSAA Executive Director Jerry Snodgrass

Scioto Downs, located just south of Columbus, hosted the OHSAA cross country state championships from 1985 through 2010 before the facility added a casino. National Trail Raceway in Hebron, 20 miles east of Columbus, hosted the state championships from 2011 through 2019.”

#howicompete campaign

On May 5th, OHSAA released that they would be launching a campaign in collaboration with Allied Organizations called #howicompete. This campaign is meant to encourage student-athletes to train on their own at home while school facilities are closed. The #howicompete campaign will collect and promote messages and videos posted by OHSAA members, media, and allied organizations in hopes that both the messages and videos will inspire athletes to train as hard as they can during the remainder of the COVID-19 pandemic. The press release below from OHSAA goes more in-depth as to what the #howicompete campaign is and how it will benefit student-athletes.

“With school facilities shuttered, student-athletes are not permitted to gather together, therefore the #howicompete campaign encourages training on their own at home and with instructions sent electronically by their school coaches.

Student-athletes and teams are encouraged to set goals and compete against themselves and others while complying with social distancing guidelines. Content will be promoted through the OHSAA’s social media platforms (Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram) on its handle @OHSAASports.

‘The health and safety of all Ohioans is our top priority, but we also want student-athletes to stay focused and motivated to pick up where they left off when school sports return,’ said OHSAA Executive Director Jerry Snodgrass. ‘There are so many things that kids can do on their own or with their parents and siblings. Especially something like running and walking, which is a habit that can stay with them for a long time and keep them healthy as adults.’

Organizations such as the Ohio high school coaches associations, Ohio Interscholastic Athletic Administrators Association (OIAAA), and many more are asked to help encourage and promote content from student-athletes and tag the OHSAA using #howicompete. The OHSAA is also excited to share this campaign in support of the Greater Columbus Sports Commission, which is encouraging stories from competitors whose resilience is helping them Live Forward during this unprecedented health crisis.”

UD to host OHSAA women’s basketball tournaments

The recently renovated University of Dayton Arena.

On May 12th, OHSAA made the announcement that the Ohio High School Women’s Basketball State Tournament would be hosted at the recently renovated University of Dayton for the next three years. In the past, UD has not only hosted 125 NCAA Basketball Tournament games but the state of the art facility has also been the home court for March Madness more than any other athletic facility in the country! The Arena itself can seat up to 13,000 fans. OHSAA’s Executive Director Jerry Snodgrass expressed his excitement for the UD venue in the press release below.

“We are very excited to sign a three-year agreement for our member schools to experience UD Arena,’ Snodgrass said. ‘Southwest Ohio loves and supports basketball and the people at the University of Dayton have made it clear that they really want this state tournament on their campus. We believe that we have found a great home for the Women’s basketball state tournament.’

Photo by the University of Dayton

UD Arena recently completed a transformation project that was the largest construction effort in the University’s history. It is regarded as one of the nation’s premier basketball facilities to go along with fan support that consistently ranks among the best in college basketball.

‘We’re very proud that the OHSAA has entrusted us to host the women’s basketball state tournament at the University of Dayton Arena for the next three years,’ said Scott DeBolt, Senior Associate Athletics Director at the University of Dayton and Executive Director of UD Arena. ‘The same ingredients that make UD Arena the ideal place for the NCAA First Four – community support and excitement for the game of basketball, our facilities, staff, and tournament hosting experience – will help create lifelong memories for the young women who come to Dayton to play in the state tournament and their school communities.’

In the 45 years of the OHSAA girls basketball state tournament, it has been hosted at The Ohio State University 44 times (all but 1986 when it was hosted at the University of Akron). However, there are now a limited number of dates available to use OSU’s Jerome Schottenstein Center or St. John Arena in March.

The 2021 girls basketball state tournament is scheduled for March 11-13. The 2021 OHSAA boys basketball state tournament will be played at St. John Arena March 18-20. There is currently no host site in place for the men’s basketball state tournament in 2022.”

Loveland Magazine readers stay tuned for more of the latest 411 for both Loveland and Ohio sports!

Columnist Cassia Mattia is a resident of Historic Downtown Loveland