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Pointaa

Point Pleasant’s Chris Smith (top) and Roane County’s Russel May compete during a 132-pound match at the Class AA-A state tournament Wednesday in Huntington.

HUNTINGTON — The chase is on. First Oak Glen ran the Class AA-A tables in West Virginia high school wrestling for 13 years with state championships. Point Pleasant, then one of the chasers, finally caught the Golden Bears in 2010 and enjoyed a three-year run. The Big Blacks then got moved to Class AAA for four years, so Greenbrier West first and then Independence moved in as the kingpins. Point Pleasant dropped back down to Class AA in 2017, and after a year looking up to Independence, the Big Blacks vaulted back to the top the past two years and are heavy favorites to win Class AA-A in the 74th West Virginia state tournament at Mountain Health Arena. Areas coaches have ideas about what it will take to catch Point Pleasant, but bringing those ideas to fruition has proven difficult. “Talk about the gold standard, they have all the pieces,” Winfield coach Mike Cochran said just before action began Wednesday morning in a near-empty arena. The ongoing coronavirus pandemic has led to limited attendance here, social distancing, wearing face masks and other COVID-19 protocols. The actual wrestling season didn’t start until March, and many teams struggled to compete due to the late start, injuries and the COVID-19 protocols. The state tournament is the first live event at Mountain Health Arena in more than a year. “Point Pleasant is the real deal,” Herbert Hoover coach Richard Harper said. “They’re a solid team. Points wise, everyone knows they’re the team to beat. We’re fighting for two through 10. I’ve seen them. Anybody who knows wrestling knows it will take for them to mess up or just have an awful tournament.” In the Class AA-A Region 4 tournament, Point Pleasant had 12 champions, one second-place finisher, one third and won with 344 points. Winfield was second with 174 and had no champions. “Point Pleasant has a long history of great wrestling,” Cochran said. “It starts with the youth and middle school. You have to develop them at the grass roots. We’re starting to see some results.” Point Pleasant has quite the farm system on the mat and great community/fan support. Attendance at the state tournament will be limited due to COVID-19 protocols. Mike Stump, former head coach at Calhoun State and now an assistant, knows what it’s like to chase. First Oak Glen, then Independence and now Point Pleasant. “Ran the regional last year and they had all 14 wrestlers in the finals,” Stump said. “We’re wrestling for second place now as dominant as Point Pleasant is. Mason County is the ideal setup. The program inside the county and the community support is great. “You have to get the county, the administration, community involved in wrestling now more than ever. It’s going to take a lot of work. Everybody wants to see their kid do well. It’s going to take an effort. With support, it can be done.” Roane County veteran coach John McIntyre knows what it’s like to compete against Point Pleasant. The Raiders are now in Region 2, so they avoid the Big Blacks in the regional, but they do cross paths in other events. “I don’t look for anyone to challenge Point Pleasant,” McIntyre said. “Anybody who comes here has the mindset to win. That’s the only way to approach it. It means kids getting tougher. Sports share athletes. That’s tough. Find time to go to camps, out-of-season tournaments. Stay busy.” Greenbrier West coach Jeremy Tinchers used to bump heads with Point Pleasant in the state, but now his program is in Class A, where he is on top. He still has to compete against the Big Blacks on the mats. “Nobody’s going to catch them this weekend,” Tincher said. “You’ve got a youth league, middle school. That’s where it is. They’re in a great area. Parents care about wrestling. They have a phenomenal (coaching) staff. Until you have that, you won’t get them. There’s a bunch of tangible things good for them. You’ve got to travel to big tournaments and do other things to get better when the season comes.” Nitro coach Erik Ollom’s progam is now Class AA. The Wildcats used to compete successfully in Class AAA and have one of the most successful tournaments in the (Nitro) Pat Vance Invitational. “Don’t know. I think they can get in on sheer numbers,” Ollom said. “Individuals give it their best shot. Their farm system is great. They get them young and bring them along.” Ollom has five of his seven state qualifiers back. Cochran knows it will take time to track down Point Pleasant. “See what you have,” Cochran said. “We have a tough region. It’s good the kids learn what it takes to be at that level.” Harper has ideas on how to build Herbert Hoover to an even stronger program. “Feeder programs. Kids by into it,” Harper said. “Everybody supports it. Start to travel, camps. Do the little things. “John [Point Pleasant coach John Bonecutter] gets kids to by in. They do it year round. We do it for three months. Have to take care of different sports. We’ve got kids in baseball. It’s going to take time and dedication.” North Marion coach Brooks Russell knows about Point Pleasant even though the Huskies get limited exposure to the Big Blacks. “They combine to have some team,” Russell said. “All-stars, the pee-wee program,junior high. They all wrestle that style. Coaches teach the same things. Summer camps. Our junior program is not what it needs to be. It needs to improve. There are too many things to do.” The chases continues. The question is for how long?

HUNTINGTON — The chase is on.

First Oak Glen ran the Class AA-A tables in West Virginia high school wrestling for 13 years with state championships.

Point Pleasant, then one of the chasers , finally caught the Golden Bears in 2010 and enjoyed a three-year run. The Big Blacks then got moved to Class AAA for four years, so Greenbrier West first and then Independence moved in as the kingpins.

Point Pleasant dropped back down to Class AA in 2017, and after a year looking up to Independence, the Big Blacks vaulted back to the top the past two years and are heavy favorites to win Class AA-A in the 74th West Virginia state tournament at Mountain Health Arena.

Areas coaches have ideas about what it will take to catch Point Pleasant, but bringing those ideas to fruition has proven difficult.

“Talk about the gold standard, they have all the pieces,” Winfield coach Mike Cochran said just before action began Wednesday morning in a near-empty arena.

The ongoing coronavirus pandemic has led to limited attendance here, social distancing, wearing face masks and other COVID-19 protocols. The actual wrestling season didn’t start until March, and many teams struggled to compete due to the late start, injuries and the COVID-19 protocols. The state tournament is the first live event at Mountain Health Arena in more than a year.

“Point Pleasant is the real deal,” Herbert Hoover coach Richard Harper said. “They’re a solid team. Points wise, everyone knows they’re the team to beat. We’re fighting for two through 10. I’ve seen them. Anybody who knows wrestling knows it will take for them to mess up or just have an awful tournament.”

In the Class AA-A Region 4 tournament, Point Pleasant had 12 champions, one second-place finisher, one third and won with 344 points. Winfield was second with 174 and had no champions.

“Point Pleasant has a long history of great wrestling,” Cochran said. “It starts with the youth and middle school. You have to develop them at the grass roots. We’re starting to see some results.”

Point Pleasant has quite the farm system on the mat and great community/fan support. Attendance at the state tournament will be limited due to COVID-19 protocols.

Mike Stump, former head coach at Calhoun State and now an assistant, knows what it’s like to chase. First Oak Glen, then Independence and now Point Pleasant.

“Ran the regional last year and they had all 14 wrestlers in the finals,” Stump said. “We’re wrestling for second place now as dominant as Point Pleasant is. Mason County is the ideal setup. The program inside the county and the community support is great.

“You have to get the county, the administration, community involved in wrestling now more than ever. It’s going to take a lot of work. Everybody wants to see their kid do well. It’s going to take an effort. With support, it can be done.”

Roane County veteran coach John McIntyre knows what it’s like to compete against Point Pleasant. The Raiders are now in Region 2, so they avoid the Big Blacks in the regional, but they do cross paths in other events.

“I don’t look for anyone to challenge Point Pleasant,” McIntyre said. “Anybody who comes here has the mindset to win. That’s the only way to approach it. It means kids getting tougher. Sports share athletes. That’s tough. Find time to go to camps, out-of-season tournaments. Stay busy.”

Greenbrier West coach Jeremy Tinchers used to bump heads with Point Pleasant in the state, but now his program is in Class A, where he is on top. He still has to compete against the Big Blacks on the mats.

“Nobody’s going to catch them this weekend,” Tincher said. “You’ve got a youth league, middle school. That’s where it is. They’re in a great area. Parents care about wrestling. They have a phenomenal (coaching) staff. Until you have that, you won’t get them. There’s a bunch of tangible things good for them. You’ve got to travel to big tournaments and do other things to get better when the season comes.”

Nitro coach Erik Ollom’s progam is now Class AA. The Wildcats used to compete successfully in Class AAA and have one of the most successful tournaments in the (Nitro) Pat Vance Invitational.

“Don’t know. I think they can get in on sheer numbers,” Ollom said. “Individuals give it their best shot. Their farm system is great. They get them young and bring them along.”

Ollom has five of his seven state qualifiers back.

Cochran knows it will take time to track down Point Pleasant.

“See what you have,” Cochran said. “We have a tough region. It’s good the kids learn what it takes to be at that level.”

Harper has ideas on how to build Herbert Hoover to an even stronger program.

“Feeder programs. Kids by into it,” Harper said. “Everybody supports it. Start to travel, camps. Do the little things.

“John (Point Pleasant coach John Bonecutter) gets kids to by in. They do it year round. We do it for three months. Have to take care of different sports. We’ve got kids in baseball. It’s going to take time and dedication.”

North Marion coach Brooks Russell knows about Point Pleasant even though the Huskies get limited exposure to the Big Blacks.

“They combine to have some team,” Russell said. “All-stars, the pee-wee program,junior high. They all wrestle that style. Coaches teach the same things. Summer camps. Our junior program is not what it needs to be. It needs to improve. There are too many things to do.”

The chases continues. The question is for how long?