MILLWOOD, W.Va. — It wasn’t perfect, but the Big Blacks were about as close as you can get.
The Point Pleasant wrestling team won five weight classes, had 13 grapplers qualify for state and repeated as team champions this past Friday and Saturday at the 2018 Class AA-A Region IV championships held at the National Guard Armory in Jackson County.
The Big Blacks dominated the 15-team tournament as the Red and Black missed having a top-four finisher in only one of the 14 weight classes. Point Pleasant also had nine grapplers compete in divisional finals, which led to five regional crowns and four runner-up performances.
The Big Blacks produced the most state qualifiers in one regional tournament since the program sent 14 grapplers during the last of their three-peat championships back in 2012. It was also the 10th time in the last 11 postseasons that Point will have double-digit athletes competing at the state level.
Overall, Point Pleasant posted a winning team score of 275 points — which was 73-plus points better than the rest of the field. Winfield was the overall runner-up with 201.5 points, while defending Class A champion Wirt County was third with 164.5 points.
After sending 11 to state last year, the Big Blacks will have six grapplers making return trips to Big Sandy Superstore Arena. Point will also have 10 underclassmen competing at the 71st annual WVSSAC meet in two weeks.
Given that both age and experience are on the lighter side of the qualifiers, PPHS coach John Bonecutter was thrilled with the events of the weekend.
“I cannot express how proud I am of each and every one of our kids,” Bonecutter said. “I’m not only talking about our 14 starters, but each and every kid in our program for pushing each other on a daily basis. The hard work and dedication that we’ve put in this season is starting to pay off.
“We will take a few days and enjoy this regional title, then we’ll shift our focus to what we need to do at the state tournament.”
Christopher Smith (106) and George Smith (120) became the first set of brothers to win regional titles in the same year since Micah and Donovan Powell accomplished the feat in 2011.
Both Smiths posted identical 3-0 marks, which included two pinfall wins and a technical fall apiece. George Smith — the 106-pound Class AAA champion his freshman year — also won his third consecutive regional crown.
Logan Southall also repeated as a regional champion after posting a 3-0 mark and three pinfalls at 152 pounds, while Mitchell Freeman went 3-0 with three pinfall victories in claiming the 126-pound title.
Jacob Muncy — a five-seed — defeated three of the top-four seeds en route to a 3-0 mark, including one pinfall, en route to the heavyweight crown. Muncy was also named the Outstanding Wrestler at the AA-A Region IV tournament.
Justin Cornell (113) was the 113-pound runner-up with a 1-1 record, while Zac Samson (145), Clayton Hill (182) and Juan Marquez (195) also placed second with identical marks of 2-1.
Marquez had two pinfall wins and joins Cornell as a repeat state qualifier, while Samson and Hill both had a pinfall as each prepares for his first state tournament.
Wyatt Wilson (138) and Jacob Roub (160) both placed third with identical 3-1 records. Roub, a repeat qualifier, earned a pinfall and a major decision, while Wilson scored two major decisions while landing his first trip to state.
Jacob Bryant went 2-2 overall to finish fourth at 170 pounds for a return trip to state, while Wyatt Stanley was 2-2 with two pinfalls at 220 pounds en route to his first state appearance.
Freshman Riley Oliver just missed the cut and will serve as the 132-pound alternate after placing fifth with a 2-2 mark. Oliver finishes the year with a 22-22 overall record.
Though Point Pleasant dominated the tournament, they weren’t the only story to come out of Mason County as Wahama also had four grapplers qualify for the Class AA-A state tournament while finishing sixth with 98 points.
The White Falcons scored three runner-up efforts and had a total of five top-five performances, as well as landing three repeaters at the state level.
Ethan Herdman earned his third career state appearance after placing second with a 2-1 mark and a pinfall at 152 pounds, while Trevor Hunt and Antonio Serevicz both finished second with identical 2-1 records while securing their second career state trips.
Serevicz earned two pinfall wins at 220 pounds, while Hunt had one pinfall victory at 132 pounds.
Christian Thomas notched his first career state appearance after placing fourth at 182 pounds with a 2-2 mark, which included a pinfall win and an overtime decision.
Senior Trey Peters just missed the cut and will serve as the 126-pound alternate after placing fifth with a 4-2 mark and three pinfalls. Peters finishes the year with a 16-21 overall record.
The White Falcons were seventh at regionals last winter and also advanced four to the state tournament in 2017.
Point Pleasant — which has now won five straight Region IV tournaments as competitors at the Class AA-A level under Bonecutter after being bumped up to Class AAA from 2013-16 — led all teams at the tournament with five weight class champions.
Winfield was next with three divisional titles, followed by Williamstown and Wirt County with two apiece. Nitro and Sissonville also secured a divisional champion apiece.
Visit wvmat.com for complete results of the 2018 Class AA-A Region IV tournament held Saturday at the Millwood Armory.
Bryan Walters can be reached at 740-446-2342, ext. 2101.