CHARLESTON, W.Va. — There is something to be said when you are on top of the mountain in the Mountain State.
The Point Pleasant boys captured the program’s first-ever Class AA team title on Friday at the 2021 WVSSAC track and field championships held at Laidley Field on the campus of the University of Charleston.
The Black Knights secured three event championships and 13 podium finishes en route to a winning mark of 86 points, finishing a dozen points ahead of runner-up Winfield (74) in the 26-team scoring field.
The state crown was the second in program history for PPHS, which also won the 1986 title in the Class AAA division. Point’s previous best at the double-A level came in 2012 as the overall runners-up.
PPHS scored wins in two of the five relays it competed in and also landed an individual championship in the discus event.
The quartet of Gavin Jeffers, Jonathan Griffin, Trey Peck and Preston Taylor claimed first place in both the 4x100m relay (44.47) and 4x200m relay (1:33.22) finals, although there were some obstacles to clear in the 4x200m relay.
Oak Glen won the 4x200m relay in actual time, but the Golden Bears were disqualified for having an athlete out of the exchange zone. PPHS originally finished second and moved up one spot due to the disqualification.
Sophomore Cody Schultz cruised to the discus championship with a winning throw of 159 feet, 11 inches. His winning distance was more than 28 feet longer than the next closest competitor.
Afterwards, Schultz was in somewhat of a half-mesmerized, half-proud moment with what had just happened.
“It’s kind of surreal right now. Three months ago, I didn’t even know how to spin this thing. Coach (David) Darst showed me what I needed to do and now here I am bringing this thing home,” Schultz said. “I know I’m just scratching the surface and I still have a lot to learn, and I have some time to improve over the next two years. I’m really thrilled with the outcome and being a state champion. Things are starting to look good for the future.”
The Black Knights just missed out on adding two more state champions as Jonathan Griffin was second in the 400m dash (51.76) and Cael McCutcheon lost a tiebreaking jump off in the pole vault final to finish second with a height of 14 feet even.
Jeffers, Griffin, Hector Castillo and Brayden Randolph placed third in the 4x400m relay (3:39.95), while Peck, Ian Wood, Luke Derenberger and Brayden Wise finished third in the 4x110m shuttle hurdles relay (1:02.66).
Jeffers ended up third in the pole vault final with a height of 11 feet even. Wood was third in the 110m hurdles (16.56) and also placed fourth in the 300m hurdles (44.16).
Wise was fourth in the 110m hurdles (16.85), Brayden Connolly was fourth in the discus (126-10) and Taylor ended up fourth in the 100m dash (11.27). Taylor also finished eighth in the 200m dash final with a time of 24.63 seconds.
West Baker was 11th in the shot put with a throw of 39 feet, 9.25 inches. Derenberger was 11th in the high jump (5-4) final and also placed 15th in the long jump (17-3.25) final.
Castillo, Sean Wilson, Braxton Watkins-Lovejoy and Trenton Murphy combined to place 13th in the 4x800m relay with a mark of 9:17.01.
PPHS coach Matt Cottrill was very plain and on point with his words afterwards.
“The coaches and the school are very proud of these young men,” Cottrill said. “It was a total team effort, from the sprinters and distance runners to the field events … and coaches too. It’s a banner day for the program.”
Logan Zuchelli of Fairmont Senior was the high-point scorer with 32.5 points after wins in the 800m run, 1600m run, 3200m run and the 4x800m relay.
Visit runwv.com for results of the Class AA track and field championships held Thursday and Friday at Laidley Field on the campus of the University of Charleston.
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Bryan Walters can be reached at 740-446-2342 ext. 2101.