POINT PLEASANT, W.Va. — For a program best-known for what it does in the winter time, Point Pleasant wrestling has enjoyed one heck of an offseason.
As the three-time defending Class AA-A champion Big Blacks prepare for their transition to the Class AAA ranks, the program itself now has a place to call its very own — which should only aid in improving on what Point Pleasant has previously achieved on the mat.
The new PPHS wrestling facility is officially open for business after months of painstaking planning, fundraising and work, and the building is already paying huge dividends for fourth-year coach John Bonecutter and his grapplers. It’s also already benefiting all the other programs at Point Pleasant as well.
“When you walk in here, it is exciting because it is your own building. We’re not getting in other people’s way or other people aren’t getting in our way,” Bonecutter said. “It really helps out the entire athletic department. Football now has it’s own place and doesn’t have to shuffle things around at the end of their season so that we can start practice. Basketball has more time in the gymnasium to do what they need. It’s just a win-win all the way around for our school.”
In past years, the wrestling program has had to wait for football to end before rolling out a handful of practice mats in what was the football locker room. And with a roster that has sometimes reached into the 30s, having only four or five mats to practice on really limited what the coaches were able to concentrate on during practices.
But now, with a 50-foot-by-80-foot facility at their disposal, Bonecutter has ample space and numerous practice mats to continue pushing PPHS wrestling to even greater heights.
“It’s nice because there’s a lot of room. You don’t feel cramped and it makes for a really comfortable working and learning environment. When you build something specifically for something, it’s going to help out,” Bonecutter said. “We can come in here and do what we want, when we want and keep improving ourselves at competing on a high level year-in, year-out.
“There are some really good teams in the Triple-A level, and we’ve wrestled a lot of Triple-A teams in the past to make us better at what we were doing in the Double-A ranks. We know it’s going to be a big jump and things will be a little different, but we also know what we are getting into with Triple-A. We’re excited about the challenge of it, and we also believe that this new facility will greatly aid us in focusing on what we need to do.”
The facility, which cost around $60,000 to complete, was funded through efforts from both the PPHS wrestling boosters and local contributors — as well as an engraved brick drive that raised five-figures toward the cause. In fact, the brick drive went so well that another will be taking place in the upcoming months.
Without all of the efforts of some truly dedicated wrestling enthusiasts, both in Point Pleasant and abroad, Bonecutter acknowledges that this reality would not have been possible.
“We received a lot of support from the community on this project. And not just Point Pleasant, but the whole Mason County community,” Bonecutter said. “We’ve had people from Mason, New Haven and Gallipolis getting behind this project just as much as the people and boosters here in Point Pleasant, and it’s been overwhelming to see just how much support this area has thrown into this project. We wouldn’t have this facility right now if wasn’t for such a great community of people.”
The building comes equipped with showers and a locker room, a coaches offices and a heated practice area that will keep athletes warm during the winter months. The walls are also covered with signs that show all of the great Point Pleasant wrestling history, from a list of state champions to state qualifiers to seasonal records. There are also three signs complete dedicated to the 2010, 2011 and 2012 state championships in Class AA-A.
As nice as this new addition is for the PPHS wrestling program, it was not the only positive thing to make its way to Point Pleasant this offseason.
Bonecutter himself was honored by his peers as the 2012 National Wrestling Coaches Association Scholastic Division coach of the year in West Virginia. It is the second time that Bonecutter has received this award in his three years at the helm of the PPHS program, with the other coming during his rookie campaign in 2010.
Bonecutter — who won the Class AA-A championship in each of his three previous seasons as head coach of the Big Blacks — is believed to be the first two-time recipient of this award in the Mountaineer State.
He acknowledges the great honor as a blessing, but also notes that like any other team sport — it takes a lot of great people to accomplish great things together.
“It’s incredibly humbling, but all of the credit goes to the kids on this one,” Bonecutter said. “If those guys don’t go out there and wrestle well, then awards like this don’t show up here in Point Pleasant. I’m more excited about it for the program, because it brings some higher recognition and attention to the program.
“It gets college coaches looking our way a bit more for future athletes. Any type of good exposure or recognition for us is only going to make the program that much better.”
Point Pleasant begins the 2012-13 season ranked third in the Class AAA preseason coaches poll.