MINERAL WELLS, W.Va. — They originally thought there were more, but at least the Black Knights are still headed back to state.
Sophomore Luke Wilson became the first Point Pleasant cross country runner to qualify for the West Virginia state meet in four years Thursday night following the end of the 2016 Class AA-A Region 4 Championships held in Wood County.
Wilson — who owns the school record of 17:50 in a race — finished 13th overall with a time of 18:09.71, which allowed him to move on to the state finals after producing one of the top 16 efforts at regionals.
In doing so, he became the first PPHS athlete to advance to the state tournament since Andrea Porter last accomplished the feat back in 2012.
John Kinniard was also the last Black Knight to reach the state meet after getting out of the 2009 Class AA-A regionals.
With the exception of Wilson, the rest of the Point boys season came to an end as the Black Knights finished seventh out of 11 teams with 164 points.
Winfield earned the Region 4 title with 27 points, while Ravenswood (42), Buffalo (114) and Parkersburg Catholic (131) also advanced to next weekend’s Class AA-A meet.
Tanner Durst followed Wilson with a 36th place effort of 21:36.33, followed by Wyatt Dean (21:38.15) and Eathan Scott (22:25.96) with respective finishes of 37th and 47th.
Isaac Daniels (23:20.44) completed the team tally by finishing 54th, while Byron Fisher was 78th with a mark of 30:29.25.
Afterwards, PPHS cross country coach Jessica Porter was thrilled to have one of her athletes get rewarded for a lot of hard work. She also feels that this may be the start of something bigger for her sophomore.
“This is Luke’s first full season and he is a dedicated cross country runner. He can be seen running miles in the early morning hours in addition to our afternoon practices all over town,” Porter said. “With the strides he has already made, I feel confident he will achieve even greater success over the next two years. He tries to motivate and keep all the team focused every practice. He is a joy to coach.”
On a completely opposite note, the Lady Knights left the Class AA-A Region 4 tournament thinking that they had made history after being declared the overall team runner-up — which included being presented with a second place plaque at the event.
After careful review, it was later determined that both PPHS and Williamstown had, in fact, tied for second place with matching scores of 70.
Both Point and WHS had only five participants compete in the tournament, which meant that the tiebreaker came down how the first four runners on each team finished — allowing the Lady Yellow Jackets to claim second place by a three-point (51-48) margin.
In being bumped to third place, the Lady Knights went from having five girls in the state meet to zero competitors — as none of the Point girls finished in the top 10 spots. Only two teams — WHS and Region 4 champion Winfield (17) — advanced to the state final.
The final outcome was a little tough for Porter to accept, even though she understands the rules in regards to a five-participant tiebreaker said. “We had several hours of excitement, as it would have been the first time a Point Pleasant team qualified for states. It’s heartbreaking for the girls, especially since we left the meet heading for states.”
Allison Henderson led PPHS with a 12th place finish of 22:46.99, followed by Cierra Beatty (25:12.51) and Karson Bonecutter (26:12.23) with respective efforts of 24th and 30th.
Tayllor King (28:15.72) and Tanner King (28:30.10) completed the Lady Knights’ final tally with respective finishes of 36th and 37th.
The Class AA-A state cross country championships will be held Saturday at Cabell Midland High School.
Complete results of the 2016 Class AA-A Region 4 cross country championships are available on the web at runwv.com
Bryan Walters can be reached at 740-446-2342, ext. 2101.