Rather it be in Ohio or in West Virginia, there were still plenty of miles racked up in getting to state tournaments within the Ohio Valley Publishing area this past school year.
Mason, Meigs and Gallia counties collectively produced over 80 state qualifying individuals during the 2016-17 campaign, with a whopping 70 of those coming in non-team competitions.
In fact, only the Ohio Valley Christian girls volleyball team, as well as the Gallia Academy tennis duo of Pierce Wilcoxon and Miguel Velasco, advanced to the state level in some sort of group sport.
Mason County — which did not have a single team advance to a state tournament — did lead the tri-county area with an impressive 57 student-athletes competing at the highest levels in the Mountain State.
Point Pleasant led all of the 10 local high schools with 37 individual state qualifiers, with Wahama coming in second place with its 20 state advancees. PPHS was also the only school to have at least one state qualifier in the fall, winter and spring seasons.
Spring proved to be the most productive season in the OVP area as 53 student-athletes advanced to state in either tennis or track and field, with the latter producing all but four of those qualifiers.
The meets held at Laidley Field and Jesse Owens Memorial Stadium also led to a total of nine podium finishes between the two states … which will very likely be discussed in a little more detail later this week.
PPHS sent 22 track and field athletes to the Class AA championships, while Wahama qualified 16 for the Class A meet at Laidley Field.
Meigs led all of the Ohio programs with four entrants at Jesse Owens, while Gallia Academy had three and River Valley accounted for one in the Division II meet. Eastern had three athletes compete in the Division III championships.
Wilcoxon and Velasco lost their opening round match in the state tournament, but did finish the year as sectional champs and regional runners-up on their way to the Lindner Family Tennis Center.
Point sophomore Dawson Wilson finished the boys tennis season with a 17-3 record and made it to the semifinal round in third singles, while PPHS junior Bailey Barnett ended the girls year with a 15-7 mark after dropping a second singles semifinal in Charleston.
The winter months brought the second-best showing from the tri-county region, particularly in the sport of wrestling — which accounted for all 16 state appearances.
Point Pleasant led the charge with 11 qualifiers in the Class AA-A event at Big Sandy Superstore Arena, while WHS added another four to that same state tournament. GAHS also had a single grappler advance to the OHSAA championships at Value City Arena in Division II.
The Big Blacks came away with three podium finishes and a pair of state runner-up efforts from Grant Safford (182) and George Smith (113). Andrew Roach also placed third at 195 pounds for PPHS.
Kaleb Crisenbery earned Ohio’s lone podium spot in the winter after placing eighth in the D-2 meet at 145 pounds. Wahama came away with no podium finishes, but did score a point at the state level for the ninth time in 11 years.
The Lady Defenders — the lone full squad to advance to a state tournament — put together a volleyball season for the ages after winning its first 19 matches of the year.
OVCS eventually rolled through the Ohio Christian Schools Athletics Association field and found itself in the championship game against Mars Hill Academy. The Lady Defenders ultimately dropped a five-game decision and ended the campaign with a 23-2 overall record.
Eastern junior Jessica Cook qualified for her third consecutive Division III cross country final at National Trail Raceway, while sophomore Luke Wilson earned his first berth and also became the first PPHS boy to advance to the state CC meet since 2009.
Junior Bryce Tayengco also advanced to the state golf tournament for Point Pleasant, making him the first Black Knight to appear in Tornado since the duo of Erik Allbright and Opie Lucas went in 2011.
Bryan Walters can be reached at 740-446-2342, ext. 2101.