HUNTINGTON, W.Va. —Hopefully, history will continue repeating itself.
The last time Point Pleasant was about to be re-classified by the WVSSAC, the Big Blacks made school history by sending six wrestlers to divisional finals while winning their third consecutive Class AA-A state championship (2012).
Four years later, as Point prepares for its final day as a Class AAA member at Big Sandy Superstore Arena, the Big Blacks are once again re-writing the record books.
Point Pleasant has assured itself of four podium finishes and also has a program-record three grapplers competing for AAA titles after two days at the 69th annual WVSSAC state wrestling championships in Cabell County.
The Big Blacks went 9-9 through the first two sessions held Thursday night and Friday morning, which resulted in 10th place finishes after each of those completed rounds.
The third session Friday night, however, proved to be a charm as PPHS earned four close decisions in as many matches — allowing all four athletes to advance to Saturday’s podium rounds.
More importantly for Point Pleasant, a trio of those wins came in the championship semifinal matches — which means the Big Blacks will have three chances to end a two-year drought without a state champion.
Senior Tannor Hill, junior Grant Safford and freshman George Smith combined to make AAA history for the Big Blacks as the trio all went 3-0 while earning spots in Saturday’s main event at 6 p.m.
Hill (220) and Safford (182) will each be appearing in their second career state championship match, while Smith (106) became only the second freshman (Rusty Maness, 2008) to ever qualify for a state final at PPHS.
Point Pleasant has had at least one grappler win a state championship the previous six times the program sent three or more participants to a final in the same year. PPHS will also have at least one wrestler competing in a state final for the 12th consecutive postseason.
The fourth all-state recipient-to-be is senior Hunter White, who has earned a top-six finish at 170 pounds. White dropped an 8-5 decision in a championship quarterfinal match, but owns a 3-1 overall mark through two days — including a pair of technical fall wins.
In seeing his troops move up to ninth (73.0) overall in the Class AAA standings, seventh-year PPHS coach John Bonecutter noted that Round 3 was something special to witness.
“It’s been one of those up-and-down seasons for us this year, but tonight sure made some that adversity seem worth it,” Bonecutter said jubilantly. “For us to go perfect Friday night and have three state finalists, I couldn’t ask any more or be any happier for these kids than I am right now.”
Parkersburg South leads the AAA field after two days with 179.5 points, while Cabell Midland (112), Huntington (111.5), George Washington (84.5) and Saint Albans (84.0) round out the top five squads.
A total of 34 different programs have scored at least one point through two days of the AAA event.
Point senior Scotty Wilcox (120) finished his final weekend with a 1-2 mark and a pinfall win, while seniors Chris Lush (145) and James Patterson (195) both went 0-2 in their state debuts. Sophomore Brian Gillispie (285) also went 0-2 overall in first trip to the WVSSAC meet.
Wahama had its six-year scoring streak in the Class AA-A tournament come to an end as sophomore Ethan Herdman went 0-2 overall at 145 pounds.
Independence currently leads the AA-A tournament through two days with 101.5 points, followed by Roane County (64.0) and Calhoun County (63.5) in the top three spots.
A total of 42 different programs have scored at least one point through two days of the AA-A event.
Bryan Walters can be reached at 740-446-2342, ext. 2101.