Luke Pruitt

Madison's Luke Pruitt drives past Shelby's Grant Hiatt during last week's season's opener at Madison Middle School. Athletic competitions at Madison and Shelby, as well as other local schools, are on hold after Richland County moved to "purple" in Ohio's color-coded COVID-19 rating system Thursday. 

MANSFIELD — Richland County’s jump from "red" to "purple" in the state’s color-coded COVID-19 rating system has made mess of an already disjointed start to the winter sports season.

Athletic officials were scurrying to put contingency plans into place after Richland County on Thursday joined seven other counties across the state in the most severe category in the rating system.

Richland, Medina, Summit, Portage and Stark counties all moved to purple this week, joining Lake Lorain and Montgomery counties.

“Our girls played Fredericktown (Thursday), but we’re shutting it down tomorrow and then we’ll wait until next Thursday’s press conference when the state announces the colors again,” Clear Fork athletic director Jeff Gottfried said. “That’s how we’re going to operate going forward. It will be week-to-week.”

Mansfield Senior will follow a similar schedule.

“We are meeting (Friday) morning to finalize our plan, but it will most likely be week-to-week for competition with an option to practice,” Senior High AD Kevin Porter said. “The practice piece has been up for debate. We’ll know for sure (Friday) morning.”

It’s been a rough start to the the season for the Tygers. Neither the boys nor the girls basketball team has played a game yet and won’t for at least another week.

Likewise, sports at Lexington, Madison and Shelby are on hold until further notice. Ontario and Lucas plan to make decisions Friday.

“A lot of schools that we have on the schedule coming up have told us they won’t play us,” Madison athletic director Doug Rickert said. “Their policy is not to play a school from a purple county and we respect that.”

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I have covered high school sports in Richland County since 2000. Email him at curt@richlandsource.com or follow him on Twitter: Follow @curtjconrad on twitter.

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