ONA, W.Va. — You never get a second chance to make a first impression.
The Point Pleasant wrestling program — which had won three consecutive Class AA-A state titles before being moved up to Class AAA this school year — had a dozen grapplers advance to the state level Saturday following the conclusion of the 2013 Class AAA Region IV Wrestling Tournament at Cabell Midland High School.
It was the first time in four years that the Big Blacks failed to win a regional championship as a team, as PPHS finished as the overall runner-up with 228 points. Huntington won the Region IV team trophy with a score of 274.5 points overall. Cabell Midland (156), Winfield (133) and Spring Valley (104) rounded out the top five team scores at the 10-team event.
Point Pleasant had three grapplers win regional titles and had six more wrestlers compete in regional championship matches. PPHS also had a pair of third-place finishes and a fourth-place effort advance to state — leaving Point Pleasant without a state competitor in only the 160- and 285-pound divisions.
The Big Blacks have a total of nine repeat qualifiers for state, including two of the three regional champs from this winter. Senior Noah Searls earned another regional title in the 138-pound division, while junior Brycen Reymond is headed back to state with his first regional crown in the 182-pound weight class.
Sophomore Jacob Starcher — who was injured headed into the state tournament last year — picked up his first state berth by winning the 195-pound division.
John Raike (113), Guy Fisher (120), Steven Porter (132), Trevor Hill (170) and Jacob Duncan (220) all picked up repeat state berths by finishing second in their respective weight classes, while Caleb Leslie is headed to his first state appearance after finishing as the 106-pound runner-up.
Micah Powell (126) and Josh Hudson (145) both earned return trips to Huntington with identical third-place finishes, while Austin Rutter is headed to his first state tournament after placing fourth in the 152-pound category.
Derrick Jackson just missed the cut in the heavyweight division after finishing fifth, while Colby Sayre was sixth overall in the 160-pound division.
Complete results of the 2013 Class AAA Region IV Wrestling Tournament at Cabell Midland High School are available on the web at wvmat.com