HUNTINGTON, W.Va. — No team title, but plenty of team history — and a state champion too.
The Point Pleasant wrestling program is without a team championship for the first time in four seasons, but the Big Blacks still had one individual champion and a school-best sixth-place finish in the Class AAA standings Saturday after the conclusion of the 2013 WVSSAC State Wrestling Tournament held at Big Sandy Superstore Arena in Cabell County.
The Big Blacks — who won three consecutive Class AA-A crowns before being moved up to the AAA level this school year — eclipsed the century mark for the first time in school history at the AAA level, as PPHS posted a team tally of 101 points from its dozen qualifiers.
Point Pleasant was 99 points back of eventual-champion Huntington (200), while Parkersburg (160.5), Parkersburg South (138), Ripley (128.5) and Washington (105.5) rounded out the top-five team spots.
Only one of Point’s 12 qualifiers advanced to a state final, but senior Trevor ‘Reno’ Hill made the most of his first career championship match by completing a 4-0 weekend with an 8-2 decision over Ripley’s Nate Starkey for the 170-pound title in Class AAA.
Hill’s feat allowed the senior to become the program’s 19th state champion in history while also becoming the 12th grappler at PPHS to win a crown. Hill joins Alex Reed (1998) — the program’s first state champion — as the only wrestlers to win an individual state championship at the Class AAA level.
Hill never trailed in his finale Saturday night against Starkey, and his victory allowed the Big Blacks to secure their ninth straight postseason with at least one state champion. The four points earned from that decision also pushed PPHS ahead of Wheeling Park (98) in the final team standings, as Point’s previous-best finish at state was seventh in the AAA level.
For a senior in his final match, Hill was thrilled with the way he was leaving the PPHS program — on top of the podium.
“Coach told me going into the match not tire myself out and work as hard as you can go,” Hill said. “I did exactly what he told me and what he has taught me all year, and it worked. It’s an unbelievable feeling to be a champion. It’s like standing on top of the world.”
Hill’s victory cast a bright silver lining on an otherwise uncommon weekend for the Big Blacks, who had only five grapplers make it to the podium. PPHS also earned a third-place finish, two fourth-place efforts and a fifth-place finish.
Brycen Reymond posted a pair of wins Saturday in the 182-pound weight class, allowing the junior to finish third overall with a 4-1 record. Juniors John Raike (113) and Guy Fisher (120) both placed fourth with identical 3-2 marks, while senior Noah Searls — the 2012 Class AA-A champion at 132 pounds — placed fifth in the 138 division with a 4-2 record.
Caleb Leslie (106), Micah Powell (126), Steven Porter (132), Josh Hudson (145), Austin Rutter (152), Jacob Starcher (195) and Jacob Duncan (220) were all eliminated from podium-contention on Friday.
The Big Blacks finished the weekend with a combined 25-21 overall mark, and only two grapplers failed to score a win this weekend at the AAA level. So, even though it wasn’t a typical weekend for Point Pleasant, it was still a rewarding one for fourth-year coach John Bonecutter.
“This has been the hardest year of my coaching career, by far,” Bonecutter said. “We have faced so much adversity this year as a team, but we always tried to communicate that when you go through a rough stretch — you’ll be stronger for it in the end.
“We may not be stronger on the scoreboard this year, but the boys never quit and we still managed to set some school records at the AAA level — which is really like another feather in our cap. I’m really proud of these guys.”
It was the final weekend for seniors Micah Powell, Noah Searls, Colby Sayre, Steven Porter and Trevor Hill as PPHS wrestlers, and Bonecutter was quick to point out how much these guys have meant to the program over the years.
“Our seniors have won three state titles and also finished with the highest placement ever at a Class AAA tournament as a team. Each of them has also wrestled in a state championship match over the last four years,” Bonecutter said. “They have been part of each of my four seasons as varsity coach and two more years when I coached them in junior high.
“They have been a part of some of the greatest things we have ever done as a program and they have left quite a legacy. I just wouldn’t be able to say enough about them, but I do love them and I am going to miss them.”
Complete results of the 2013 WVSSAC State Wrestling Tournament are available on the web at wvmat.com