PARKERSBURG — Shaun Smith, Parkersburg South head wrestling coach, has another accolade to his name.
The West Virginia Sports Writers Association has selected Smith the 2021 recipient of the Van Meter Award. Named after legendary Woodrow Wilson multi-sport coach Jerome Van Meter, the award is given annually to the state’s all-sports coach of the year.
Smith will be honored on May 23 at the 74th annual Victory Awards Dinner at the Embassy Suites in Charleston.
Smith is six for six in state Class AAA wrestling championships. In his sixth season at the Patriots’ helm, South recently extended its title hold to seven consecutive years.
Smith nearly received the honor in 2019 when recipient Michael Gray was cited after guiding the Webster County boys basketball team to an unbeaten season and state championship.
This season, Smith earned the honor in balloting and was followed by runner-up Ryan Lambert, Pendleton County boys basketball; Marty Vierheller, Parkersburg Catholic girls basketball; and Erik Engle, George Washington boys soccer.
The honor is a culmination of all the hard work put in by Smith and the wrestlers who secured another state championship for the Patriots. Seniors Gavin Quiocho and Brayden Johnson went back to their winning ways, as Quiocho captured his fourth individual state crown. Johnson won his third title.
That senior leadership made a difference for the Patriots, and the continued emergence of senior Noah Buckalew (19-4) gave South added depth and experience, as did 120-pound Devin Easton.
On the other end of this roster, South’s Gage Wright finished his first year unbeaten as a state champion at 145. With such a varied and talented bunch, Smith gave his roster all the credit and said the seventh consecutive team title meant the world to him.
“I’m blown away. I’m a little more excited about the state title, but this is cool,” Smith said. “I’m not saying that wrestling doesn’t get the notoriety or recognition, but it doesn’t get the same attention behind it like football or basketball. I’m excited, and it just feels like, collectively, everyone puts in a lot of work. It’s cool to reach that accomplishment.”
During Smith’s time at the helm of the PSHS program, wrestlers have ended seasons with some of the best won-loss records in the state, and this season was no exception. Quiocho ended his time at South winning Ohio Valley Athletic Conference Wrestler of the Year honors with a 22-1 mark at 160 pounds. Wright ended his freshman campaign at 24-0, while Johnson won his 138 title with a 23-1 record. Others include Easton at 23-2, 106-pounder Brady Roberts at 21-2, 113-pounder Brent Bosley at 20-3, Trenton Jones ended his sophomore season at 132 with a 23-3 record while Robert Shockey and Jude Childers held identical 20-4 records and Aydan Edwards finished similarly at 195 at 20-3.
Smith said his roster went above and beyond in ensuring victory when it mattered most.
“The seniors are part of an exceptional group, and it goes without saying. You hate to lose any of them,” Smith said.