HUNTINGTON, W.Va. — They say good things come in threes.
The Point Pleasant wrestling team would certainly agree with them after this weekend.
The Big Blacks had a trio of individual champions and also became the third program to ever win three straight Class AA-A crowns at the 65th annual WVSSAC state wrestling championships held Thursday through Saturday at Big Sandy Superstore Arena in Cabell County.
Point Pleasant set a school record for points scored at the state level for a third consecutive year, as the Big Blacks posted a team tally of 224 — which was 85 points better than the rest of the Class AA-A field. Independence was the runner-up in the 43-team field with 139 points, while Clay County (126.5), Wirt County (110.5) and Greenbrier West (98) rounded out the top-five.
PPHS finished the three-day event with a dozen podium efforts, which included three champs, three runners-up and three fourth-place finishes to go along with three other top-six efforts. It is also the third time that Point Pleasant has had three champions come away from one state tournament, tying a school record also set in both 2006 and 2010.
The Big Blacks — who had a program-best 14 grapplers competing this weekend — not only joined Oak Glen (1997-2009) and Cameron (1991-94) in winning three consecutive Class AA-A titles, but Point also joined those two programs in becoming the third school to score over 200 points at a Class AA-A tournament since its inception back in 1976.
And with this weekend being Point’s final small-division appearance before joining the bigger 3A ranks next fall, third-year coach John Bonecutter said that it was the perfect farewell to Class AA-A. And perhaps, even, a little message for all the big boys to take notice of.
“I cannot say enough about these guys and what they have accomplished this weekend. They have all worked so hard this year for us to get to this point, so to see it come together this weekend … well, it’s special,” Bonecutter said. “I am really blessed to have great kids that want to succeed, so I am really fortunate to be the coach of these guys. We wanted to go out (of Class AA-A) on top and send a little message to the big guys for next year. I think we made our presence felt.”
Point Pleasant had a program-best six grapplers competing in the finals Saturday night, and the Big Blacks went 3-3 in those half-dozen matches. Point lost its first three championship contests by decision, then rallied to win its final three matches — also all by decision.
Noah Searls (132), Zach Nibert (160) and Josh Hereford (170) all went 4-0 over the weekend, and each of the trio came away with their first-ever state crowns. Both Searls and Nibert are juniors, while Hereford — a senior — won gold in his final match with the Big Blacks.
John Raike (106), Micah Powell (120) and Steven Porter (126) all came up short on points in their respective finales, as each came away with runner-up honors after posting matching 3-1 records. Guy Fisher also placed third in the 113-pound division with a 4-1 mark.
Josh Hudson (145), Trevor Hill (152) and Jacob Gleason (220) all earned fourth-place finishes in their respective weight classes. Hill and Gleason both finished the three-day event with identical 4-2 records, while Hudson came away from the weekend with a 3-2 mark.
Brycen Reymond was fifth in the 182-pound division with a 3-2 mark, while Gabe Loggins was 2-3 overall in the 138-pound weight class — good enough for sixth place. Neither Jacob Duncan (195) nor Scott Duncan (285) finished in the top-six, but Jacob Duncan did score one victory between the duo.
Of the 14 state qualifiers from Point Pleasant, only three — Loggins, Hereford and Gleason — are seniors. It was also the first time in three years that John Bonecutter was not named coach of the year at the state meet. That honor went to Independence coach Cliff Warden.
Wahama also had a pair of grapplers at the Class AA-A competition this weekend, which yielded the White Falcons 21st place overall with 22 points.
Sophomore Kane Roush became the program’s first-ever state finalist, but Roush ultimately placed second in the 152-pound division after losing a 10-5 decision in the championship — giving him a 3-1 record this weekend. Classmate Randle Robie also went 2-2 in the 120-pound weight class, but did not make it into the top-six spots of that division.
Dylan Cottrell of Roane County was named the 2012 Class AA-A most outstanding wrestler after capturing his fourth consecutive state title. Parkersburg South won the Class AAA crown with 199.5 points, finishing 17.5 points ahead of runner-up Ripley (182).
Complete results of the 2012 WVSSAC state wrestling tournament are available on the web at wvmat.com
NOTE: There will be separate stories on Point Pleasant’s champions and Kane Roush becoming the first state finalist at Wahama in the Wednesday sports editions of the Point Pleasant Register, The Daily Sentinel and the Gallipolis Daily Tribune.