Max Dupler found himself pulled in two directions the past few weeks.

The Ohio High School Athletic Association indefinitely postponed the remaining winter sports tournaments because of the COVID-19 coronavirus pandemic, meaning Dupler and his New Albany hockey teammates were waiting to finish the season by participating in the program's first state tournament.

But as the tournament was canceled March 26, Dupler entered the time of year in which he ordinarily would have been starting boys lacrosse season.

Either way, Dupler did his best to stay sharp both mentally and physically, even without knowing when his next game would be.

"It's a little weird. Last year, hockey didn't go as far so I was already into lacrosse. Hockey (was) still the priority until that (was) over, but I also have to look at lacrosse," said Dupler, a junior goaltender on the hockey team and an attacker in lacrosse. "With the Chillers closed and the no-contact period, it's not easy to get much hockey work in. The lacrosse conditioning we do helps us stay in shape. I'm still hopeful that we can play."

Spring sports athletes across the state have worked the past few weeks to keep themselves in shape as they await word from the OHSAA on whether their seasons will be abbreviated or canceled entirely.

An initial statewide three-week closing of schools ends Friday, April 3. The OHSAA instituted a no-contact period during that time, although teammates can communicate and coaches are allowed to send their players suggested workouts. The earliest spring sports could begin under the initial ruling is April 11, following a five-day acclimation period.

Update: Gov. Mike DeWine announced March 30 that schools will remain closed through May 1.

New Albany's hockey team was to have played Toledo St. Francis in a state semifinal March 14 at Nationwide Arena. The boys lacrosse team's first game was scheduled for March 21 at Springboro.

With schools and most training facilities closed, athletes have been forced to get creative.

Eagles boys track and field thrower Henry Zimmerman, a Penn State recruit who was Division I state indoor champion in the weight throw, said he isn't above drawing a circle with chalk on any level surface in order to work on his throwing motion.

"As long as you're on level ground, you can work. You can still do drills. That's the most important thing," said Zimmerman, who was regional champion in the discus last year and finished 10th at state. "It's definitely disappointing. My expectations are high and I was pretty excited to go ahead into this season (after indoor state). It's understandable, but it definitely hurts. I train when I can, in a parking lot or any open circle I can find."

The postponement gave Columbus Academy baseball player Mitch Priest extra time to heal from a broken right hand suffered during basketball season, but he remained hopeful of returning to the field this spring.

"I was rehabbing at school, but now that the school is closed, I'm having to do it at home. I'm definitely making good progress, but I'm not there yet," Priest said. "I came into my senior year with the goal of being first-team all-(MSL-Ohio Division) in basketball and baseball. I probably won't be able to do that for baseball. I obviously couldn't do that for basketball because of the injury. It hurts, but my dad (Kenyon men's basketball coach Ken Priest) always says sports are a great teacher, a great reflection of life, and in life things just don't go your way sometimes."

New Albany girls lacrosse player Abby Cole hopes to earn a starting spot this season as a freshman for a team coming off a Division I state runner-up finish. She credited daily runs and an exercise program implemented by assistant football coach Bobby Britton with helping her stay sharp.

"Running clears my mind," said Cole, a midfielder. "Our coaches have been great about staying in touch. They have suggested Zoom (a video-conferencing app) and FaceTime to stay in contact to make sure everyone is doing well. Coach Britton has given us videos that help explain exercises that will improve our play on the field.

"I miss my teammates so much. I'm doing everything I can to make the best of the situation."

With hockey season officially finished, Dupler said he will continue to guard against slacking off even though there's no set date for lacrosse to begin.

"The big thing is not letting yourself get too lazy," he said. "It's easy to do nothing. Once the season starts, you'll be able to see who's put the work in."

ThisWeek reporter Frank DiRenna contributed to this story.

dpurpura@thisweeknews.com

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