MOUNT ZION, W.Va. — Back on top.
After four years at the Class AAA ranks, the Point Pleasant wrestling team returned to the top of the mountain this past weekend after winning the Class AA-A Region 4 title held at Calhoun County High School.
The Big Blacks — who finished second, second, third and fourth during their four years at the Class AAA Region 4 tournament — captured their fourth straight Region 4 team title as competitors at the Class AA-A ranks. PPHS ended up winning the Class AA-A state crown in 2010, 2011 and 2012 after winning the Region 4 title in those previous seasons.
Overall, the Big Blacks posted a combined 25-10 overall record and had 11 of their 13 grapplers qualify for state while finishing the two-day event with a team tally of 236 points.
Wirt County — the top Class A finishing program — was the overall runner-up with 188.5 points, while Winfield (174.0), Williamstown (102.0) and Sissonville (89.5) rounded out the top five spots in the 15-team field.
Point Pleasant came away with six regional champions and also had 11 top-four finishes at the event. All but one of the 13 PPHS grapplers also finished in the top six of their respective divisions.
“I’m very proud of the guys because winning a regional championship was one of our main goals this season,” eighth-year Point Pleasant coach John Bonecutter said afterwards. “It is very satisfying to see this happen, but now it’s time to refocus and get ready for states next weekend.”
Freshman Justin Cornell (106), sophomore George Smith (113), junior Jacob Bryant (138) and senior Grant Safford (182) all went 2-0 en route to winning weight class titles, while freshman Logan Southall (126) and senior Austin Wamsley (152) also won divisional titles with identical 3-0 marks.
Senior Andrew Roach placed second with a 1-1 record at 195 pounds, while juniors Caleb Lane (120) and Brian Gillispie (285) both finished as runners-up in their divisions with matching 2-1 marks.
Freshman Juan Marquez finished third at 220 pounds with a 3-1 record, while junior Jacob Roub was 2-2 overall and earned fourth place at 145 pounds.
Freshman Nazar Abbas just missed a qualifying spot at 170 pounds after finishing fifth with a 1-2 mark at 170 pounds. Junior Colten Carr also went 0-2 in both of his 160-pound bouts.
Smith, Lane, Wamsley, Safford and Gillispie are repeat qualifiers for the state tournament, while Cornell, Southall, Bryant, Roub, Roach and Marquez will all be making their state debuts next weekend in Huntington.
The Big Blacks will also have double-digit qualifiers at the state tournament for the 10th time in 11 postseasons, including the seventh straight tournament at the Class AA-A level.
Point Pleasant, however, will have some Mason County company at the Class AA-A state tournament as Wahama will also be sending four grapplers to Big Sandy Superstore Arena.
The White Falcons had six grapplers compete at the Region 4 meet, which resulted in a quartet of top four finishes and a 9-12 overall record. WHS finished seventh overall — and also placed fourth out of the Class A programs that participated at regionals — with 73 total points.
Ethan Herdman was the top finisher for Wahama as the junior placed second at 145 pounds with a 2-1 mark. Herdman is also the lone repeat qualifier headed to state for the Red and White.
Senior Brady Powell (152), junior Antonio Serevicz (195) and freshman Trevor Hunt (120) all placed fourth in their respective weight classes with identical 2-2 records, which also allowed each of them to earn state berths.
Braden Weaver was sixth in the heavyweight class with a 1-3 overall record, while Trey Peters went 0-2 at 126 pounds.
In all, Mason County will have 15 grapplers competing this week at the 70th annual WVSSAC Wrestling Championships that are being held at the Big Sandy Superstore Arena in Cabell County.
The three-day event starts at 6:30 p.m. Thursday and will run through Saturday evening.
Complete results of the 2017 Class AA-A Region 4 Championships are available on the web at wvmat.com
Bryan Walters can be reached at 740-446-2342, ext. 2101.