GALLIPOLIS, Ohio — They are state champions for a reason.
Point Pleasant came away with 10 of the 14 divisional selections, but ultimately had to share the top coaching honors during the selection of the third annual Ohio Valley Publishing 14 wrestling team — as voted on by the two full-time sports reporters from the Gallipolis Daily Tribune, Point Pleasant Register and The Daily Sentinel.
The third-ever tri-county area all-star team was chosen under the pretense of selecting the top wrestler from Gallia, Meigs and Mason counties in each of the 14 weight classes. A Coach of the Year and a Most Outstanding Wrestler were also chosen as part of the local postseason honors.
The Big Blacks — who sent 14 grapplers to state and finished the weekend with the program’s fourth Class AA-A championship — led the local programs with 11 total choices. PPHS also led the inaugural squad with nine total selections and had 16-of-28 picks over the first two seasons.
River Valley was the only other program to have multiple selections with two choices, while Wahama, South Gallia and Eastern each came away with a single representative.
A pair of local veterans — Point Pleasant’s John Bonecutter and River Valley’s Matthew Huck — shared Coach of the Year honors after each skipper led their programs to new heights.
Bonecutter completed his 10th season by leading the Big Blacks to their first state championship in seven years, as well as the fourth for the program under his watch. Bonecutter has been the head coach at PPHS during all four of their championship seasons.
Huck — who just completed his 20th season with the Raiders — had a breakout season after guiding the Silver and Black to a Region 22 championship and state appearance at the state duals, as well as having two individual state qualifiers this winter.
RVHS — which also produced a school-best seven district qualifiers — had not produced a state qualifier since the 2004 campaign prior to this year.
It is the first time in the three-year history of the OVP 14 that coach of the year honors have been shared.
Eight of the 14 divisional selections are repeat honorees, including seven choices from last season. Two of those seven selections were also chosen to the inaugural OVP 14 squad in 2017.
Point Pleasant’s dominance this year came at the top of its lineup, otherwise known as the lighter weights in the 14-division breakdown.
The Big Blacks came away with the first nine selections from 106 pounds through 160 pounds, plus came away with the heavyweight honoree.
Returning to the OVP 14 team from PPHS were senior George Smith, juniors Zac Samson and Jacob Muncy, and sophomores Christopher Smith and Mitchell Freeman.
George Smith — Point’s lone senior at the state meet — notched his third OVP 14 selection after placing third at 132 pounds. Smith (43-8) was a four-year state placer and a Class AAA state champion as a freshman.
Samson (37-13) and Muncy (28-9) each placed fifth at the state meet at 152 and 285 pounds, respectively. Freeman (44-7) and Christopher Smith (41-6) were state runners-up at 113 and 138 pounds, respectively.
River Valley senior Eric Weber and Wahama senior Antonio Serevicz were also repeat selections to the OVP 14 squad, with Weber earning his third straight honor.
Weber — a four-time district qualifier and 2019 individual qualifier at the Division III state level — went 46-15 overall at 182 pounds, while Serevicz — a three-time state qualifier and 2019 Class AA-A state runner-up — finished the year with a 49-3 mark at 220 pounds.
PPHS junior Logan Southall — who made the OVP 14 squad as a freshman at 126 pounds — returned to the list by placing fifth at the Class AA-A meet at 160 pounds. Southall finished the season with a 34-8 record.
The first-time selections to the OVP 14 team include only one senior, Chad Bostic of South Gallia. Bostic (35-9) became the first Rebel to ever win a TVC championship and also advanced to the Division III district tournament at 170 pounds.
Eastern sophomore Steven Fitzgerald (42-12) also became the first underclassman in school history to win a match at the Division III district level, doing so at 195 pounds.
The Big Blacks provided the remaining four first-timers, including a pair apiece from the sophomore and freshmen ranks.
Sophomore Wyatt Wilson (36-7) ended up placing third at the Class AA-A state meet at 145 pounds, while sophomore Isaac Short capped a remarkable season by going 42-1 overall while notching his first Class AA-A state championship at 106 pounds.
The two youngest members of the OVP 14 team — freshmen Derek Raike and Justin Bartee — also produced two of the most dominant performances this season … against competitors up to three years older than the pair.
The end result? The Point duo combined for an 82-1 overall record while also winning state titles in their respective divisions. Raike and Bartee also joined Maness and George Smith as the only freshmen in program history to win individual state championships.
Raike went 46-1 overall at 120 pounds while rolling to multiple MOW honors at regular season meets, including the Fandetti-Richardson Brawl in Tennessee.
Bartee was unbeaten in 36 matches at 126 pounds and joined four-time state champion Rusty Maness as the only PPHS grapplers to ever go unbeaten during the season.
For their first-year efforts at the varsity level, both Raike and Bartee are sharing the 2019 honors for Most Outstanding Wrestler in the OVP area.
Gallia Academy and Meigs were the only programs in the tri-county area that did not have a representative on the OVP 14 wrestling team.
Other grapplers in consideration for OVP 14 honors included Garytt Schwall (106), Jason Stroud (120), Lane Pullins (182) and Logan Griffith (220) of Gallia Academy; Joseph Burns (120), Jacob Edwards (126), Nathan Cadle (138), Will Hash (145) and Chris Goheen (285) of River Valley; Dillon Aeiker (145) of Eastern; Trevor Hunt (145) of Wahama; Justin Butler (160) of South Gallia; and Tucker Smith (145) of Meigs.
Point Pleasant’s Grant Safford (182) was the Most Outstanding Wrestler of the first OVP 14 team in 2017. Point’s John Bonecutter won Coach of the Year honors as well in 2017.
Gallia Academy’s Kyle Greenlee (113) shared MOW honors with River Valley’s Jacob Edwards (113) last year. Eastern coach Josh Mummey earned COY honors on the 2018 squad.
2019 OVP 14 Wrestling Team
106: Isaac Short (Point Pleasant)
113: Christopher Smith (Point Pleasant)
120: Derek Raike (Point Pleasant)
126: Justin Bartee (Point Pleasant)
132: George Smith (Point Pleasant)
138: Mitchell Freeman (Point Pleasant)
145: Wyatt Wilson (Point Pleasant)
152: Zac Samson (Point Pleasant)
160: Logan Southall (Point Pleasant)
170: Chad Bostic (South Gallia)
182: Eric Weber (River Valley)
195: Steven Fitzgerald (Eastern)
220: Antonio Serevicz (Wahama)
285: Jacob Muncy (Point Pleasant)
Co-Most Outstanding Wrestlers:
Derek Raike and Justin Bartee (Point Pleasant).
Co-Coaches of the Year:
John Bonecutter (Point Pleasant) and Matthew Huck (River Valley).
Bryan Walters can be reached at 740-446-2342, ext. 2101.