HUNTINGTON, W.Va. — No titles, so history will have to do.
Despite not winning an individual state crown for the first time in a decade, Point Pleasant still set a school record for points at the Class AAA level this weekend during the 65th annual WVSSAC Wrestling Championships held at Big Sandy Superstore Arena in Cabell County.
The Big Blacks had one runner-up and six podium finishes en route to a program-best 107 points, which ultimately landed PPHS sixth place in the final standings. Huntington claimed the Class AAA crown with 188 points, followed by runner-up Parkersburg with 151 points.
Parkersburg South (132), George Washington (110.5) and Wheeling Park (110) rounded out the top five spots in the Class AAA field, which had 33 different schools score at least one point over the three-day event.
Point Pleasant ended the weekend with a combined 27-21 overall mark from a dozen individual qualifiers, half of which went on to earn top-five finishes in their respective weight classes.
The sixth-place finish also tied last year’s effort — which led to the previous record of 101 team points — as the highest placement for a PPHS squad at the AAA championships.
In fact, PPHS sat fifth in the team standings headed into the final match of the weekend - the heavyweight bout between David Smith of George Washington and Nigale Cabell of Huntington. Smith scored a pinfall win over Cabell, which vaulted GWHS from sixth to fourth in the final standings.
“We had a good weekend and put ourselves in position to finish top-five, and it came down to the very last match to change that,” fifth-year PPHS coach John Bonecutter said. “We set school records for points and state placers at a triple-A tournament, and that’s not a bad year — even by our standards. The kids wrestled well and I’m proud of them.”
In Point’s lone championship match, sophomore Tannor Hill was pinned by Ryan Carson of Lewis County in 3:04 of the 195-pound final.
Hill trailed 2-0 and then suffered what appeared to be a mild shoulder separation midway through the match, which greatly hampered his strength later on. Carson took advantage of the opportunity less than a minute later and claimed the 195 crown.
Hill finished the weekend with a 3-1 overall mark and was one of three Big Blacks to lose just one match over the three-day span. Point Pleasant also had nine of its 12 grapplers earn at least one victory at the state level.
Senior John Raike (132) and junior Jon Peterson (182) each finished third in their respective divisions with matching 4-1 records, while senior Guy Fisher (126) and junior Jacob Duncan (220) ended the weekend with respective marks of 3-2 and 4-2.
Senior Kinneson Leslie also placed fifth overall in the 106-pound weight class with a 4-2 overall mark. Austin Rutter (152), Hunter White (160) and Grant Safford (170) also earned at least one point apiece for Point Pleasant.
It was the final weekend of matches for seniors John Raike, Guy Fisher and Kinneson Leslie with the Big Blacks. Reymond and fellow senior Josh Hudson also missed the postseason due to injuries.
“It’s been a season full of ups and downs. We lost Brycen (Reymond) for the year and battled through other injuries midseason, but we also had a lot of kids step it up,” Bonecutter said. “I’m very proud of the effort and the determination that these kids gave to get us back to this point this weekend.
“It’s always difficult to lose seniors, and those guys are no different. They are a special group of kids. With that said, we have nine of these guys coming back next year — so we do have some expectations for next season.”
Trapper Hays (152) of Parkersburg was named the Most Outstanding Wrestler for the 2014 Class AAA tournament.
Complete results of the 2014 WVSSAC Wrestling Championships are available on the web at wvmat.com