HUNTINGTON, W.Va. — Not the desired outcome, but a remarkable weekend nonetheless.
The Wahama wrestling program is still searching for its first-ever state champion, but the White Falcons also showed real signs of progress at the 72nd annual WVSSAC Wrestling Championships held at Big Sandy Superstore Arena in Cabell County.
The Red and White landed their first two state placers in five postseasons and went 6-4 overall en route to a 19th place finish in the Class AA-A tournament with 31 points.
More importantly, Wahama managed a top-five finish in the Class A portion of the tournament and had multiple placers in the same tournament for just the fourth time in program history.
Senior Antonio Serevcz became only the second grappler in program history to advance to the state championship match, joining Kane Roush in his 2012 sophomore season accomplishment.
Serevicz — a three-time state qualifier — also had some misfortune in his final bout after dropping a 4-3 decision in the second sudden victory round of the 220-pound championship.
After a scoreless first period against Madonna senior Garrett Cook, Serevicz fell behind 2-0 and was eventually down 3-2 after the second period. Serevicz, however, started the third period on bottom and managed to escape with 41 seconds left — which tied the match at three headed into a 60-second overtime session.
Both grapplers went scoreless in the extra minute, which led to pair of 30-second sudden victory rounds to determine a winner.
Serevicz started on bottom in the first sudden victory session, but was unable to escape after 30 seconds of work. Cook started the second sudden victory session on bottom and managed to slip away from Serevicz with just two seconds remaining.
Cook managed to run off the final two seconds of the match, and ultimately secured the 220-pound title with a heartbreaking 4-3 decision.
Serevicz went 3-1 overall and had a single pinfall en route to finishing as the White Falcons’ second-ever state runner-up. Serevicz also completed his 2019 campaign with a 49-3 overall record.
Junior Trevor Hunt — also a three-time state qualifier — came away with sixth place in the 145-pound weight class after going 3-3 overall with a pair of pinfall victories. Hunt completed his year with a 46-8 overall record.
This dynamic duo joins the 2002, 2013 and 2014 squads in producing multiple state placers in the same tournament. It was also the first time in their respective careers that Hunt and Serevicz came away with a top-six finish at the state tournament.
The White Falcons have also scored at least one point at the state level in 10 of the last dozen tournaments.
More importantly, as 13th-year WHS coach Ryan Russell noted afterward, this pair of accomplished grapplers have helped restore respectability at the state level.
Russell was heartbroken for his senior at the end of the night, but mentioned that both of his state qualifiers should take a pride in their respective weekends.
And with a junior high program that just won the Tri-Valley Conference title coming in next winter, Russell believes that the future of the Wahama program is looking brighter every day.
“For Antonio, it’s tough to go out in his senior year with a loss in the state final. However, he’s put in a lot of hard work to get where he is … and he’s accomplished a great deal of things in his time with this program. He’s disappointed right now, we all are, but he can hold his head high in time,” Russell said. “It’s tough having only seven kids in the program, but the two we brought to state both ended up placing and we were a top-five team in Class A. To me, in a way, it’s almost like batting a thousand.
“Things could always go better or they can go worse, but I couldn’t be prouder of the efforts that Antonio and Trevor gave us this weekend. We’ll have some experience coming back and some capable junior high kids joining the squad next year, but it takes a lot of dedication to get where we are this weekend. We still have a lot of work to put in so that we can get this program where we want it to be, but better days are ahead for us.”
Greenbrier West was fifth overall in the Class AA-A field with 95 points, but won the Class A championship by 21 points over the field.
Wirt County was sixth overall and ended up as the Class A runner-up with 74 points, while defending champion Madonna (50.5) and South Harrison (35.5) respectively rounded out the three and four spots.
Visit wvmat.com for complete results of the 2019 WVSSAC Wrestling Championships being held at Big Sandy Superstore Arena last weekend.
Bryan Walters can be reached at 740-446-2342, ext. 2101.