POINT PLEASANT, W.Va. — It’s hard to compare similar things that happened roughly a decade apart.
Then again, it sure does make for an interesting conversation.
As the Point Pleasant wrestling program secured its sixth Class AA-A state championship — and its second-ever 3-peat — last week at the 74th annual WVSSAC Championships at Mountain Health Arena, some of the most common discussions heard in the aftermath were those wondering which 3-year run was better?
In all fairness, the 2010-12 teams and the 2019-21 squads had entirely different obstacles to tear down en route to their historic accomplishments. Yet, their stories are somewhat similar.
The first reign was hard enough to even start, as the 2010 squad — Point’s first-ever Class AA-A state championship group — took its first lead of the tournament during the third and final day of competition that year.
Those same Big Blacks also became the first team not named Oak Glen to win the Class AA-A championship in 14 years.
On the other hand, the 2019 squad was simply looking for its first individual champion after consecutive Class AA-A postseasons without a winner. Those Big Blacks — like the 2010 group — came away with three individual titles en route to securing the program’s fourth state crown.
That PPHS squad led wire-to-wire throughout the tournament and ended up dethroning 5-time defending champion Independence in the process.
Both 3-peat groups had at least a dozen state qualifiers every year, and the last four championship runs have come with a PPHS athlete competing in each of the 14 weight classes that postseason.
A grand total of three grapplers from both 3-peat teams — one and two, respectively — failed to record at least one win throughout the course of those 3-year title runs. That means 77 of the 80 qualifiers from those state title teams have at least one win at the highest level of competition in West Virginia.
Those half-dozen seasons account for 22 individual state championships and 62 podium finishes at Point Pleasant, all while gradually re-writing the program’s history books along the way. PPHS currently has 36 individual state championships and 150 top-6 placers at the state level over its entire history.
With all of the dominance associated with these six teams, there are also significant differences between the two … even though they both managed to accomplish the same basic things.
And this, as they say, is where the discussion gets good — particularly in the details behind each of the 3-year runs.
The 2010-12 squads posted a combined record of 114-53 at the state tournament, with 49 of those victories coming by pinfall. Point Pleasant averaged 191.8 team points in the three tournaments and beat the field by an average of 50.5 points during that span.
That same 3-year reign welcomed seven individual state champions and 30 state placers, as well as two repeat champions and the program’s only 4-time champion in Rusty Maness (2008-11). The 2010 and 2012 teams each came away with three individual champions as well
The 2012 squad proved to be the best of the best during that run, with those Big Blacks becoming the first team in program history to qualify athletes in all 14 divisions. All but one of those grapplers won a single match that year.
PPHS rolled to a pair of school records, at the time, with a dozen placers and 224 points en route to beating runner-up Independence by a full 85 points. It was also the first of only three times in school history that Point Pleasant posted 40-or-more wins (42-19) at the Class AA-A tournament.
Of their 30 podium finishers, the 2010-12 squad had 18 placers earn top-3 spots. The 2012 squad also set a then-record of 11 straight wins to start the Class AA-A tournament.
The 2019-21 teams, conversely, combined for a 123-47 record at the state tournament, with 65 of those wins coming by pinfall. Point Pleasant averaged 239 team points in the three tournaments and beat the field by an average of 124.7 points during that span.
The current 3-year run has ushered in 15 individual state champions and 32 state placers, as well as five repeat champions and three of the program’s four 3-time winners.
Both Derek Raike and Justin Bartee — currently juniors — potentially have the chance to join Maness next year in the rare 4-title club. Current senior Isaac Short won titles in each of the last three tournaments as well.
The 2020 team has proven to be the best of the best from the current reign, even though all three of their championship teams qualified athletes into all 14 weight classes. The 2020 squad also set the current school record by going unbeaten in its first 15 matches, which included a first-ever perfect 14-0 mark on Day 1.
The 2020 group set the current school record with 266.5 points and set a state record for winning margin at the Class AA-A level after defeating runner-up Braxton County (111) by 155.5 points. It was also the first of two straight postseasons where the program came away with a half-dozen individual champions.
Of their 32 podium finishers, the 2019-21 squad had 24 placers earn top-3 spots. The 2020 squad also set the new program record for most wins (44-14) at a tournament. The 2021 squad went 41-15 at the Class AA-A tournament last week and set the school record for most pinfall wins (24) at a single state tournament.
In comparing the final numbers, the more recent 3-peat group accumulated nine more wins, six fewer losses and 16 more pinfall wins than their predecessors. PPHS has also scored more than 200 points in its last four state championship runs, and its only happened four times in the program’s history.
There is also one major difference between the 3-peat groups in this discussion. This year’s squad will have the chance to not only defend its Class AA-A title next year, but it can also become the new standard for wrestling at PPHS by capturing a fourth consecutive crown.
After winning titles from 2010 through 2012, the 2013 squad found itself in the Class AAA ranks for the first time since the end of the 2002 campaign. PPHS came away with only three individual state champions during the next four years (2013-16) at the triple-A level.
So, which 3-peat group was better?
Depends on who you ask.
In the end, they were all state champions of a record-setting caliber at the time.
Maybe that is the most important thing to remember in all of this.
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Bryan Walters can be reached at 740-446-2342, ext. 2101.