HUNTINGTON, W.Va. — Where dreams can become reality.
Mason County will be well-represented this weekend at Big Sandy Superstore Arena as two teams and 17 total grapplers compete in the 71st annual West Virginia Secondary Schools Athletic Association wrestling championships this Thursday, Friday and Saturday in Cabell County.
Both Point Pleasant and Wahama are competing in the Class AA-A tournament this weekend, and both programs also have multiple entrants in the three-day affair for just the second time since the 2013-14 campaign — but also for a second consecutive postseason.
The Big Blacks — who tied for fourth place last year with Oak Glen in their Class AA-A return — will have a total of 13 wrestlers competing this weekend, while the White Falcons are sending four grapplers to the big stage.
PPHS — which won the 2010, 2011 and 2012 Class AA state crowns before being bumped up to the triple-A ranks through the 2013-16 campaigns — have six wrestlers making a return to Big Sandy Superstore Arena … as well as five Region IV champions.
Point Pleasant will be sending double-digit qualifiers to state for the 11th time in a dozen years, and its also the largest amount of representation for the program since getting a qualifier in every division back in 2012.
The Big Blacks have also finished inside the top-10 of the final team standings every year since the 2002 campaign.
The most experienced grappler returning for Point Pleasant to state is junior George Smith at 120 pounds. The three-time Region IV champion won the AAA title at 106 pounds in 2016 and was the 113-pound runner-up a year ago at Class AA-A.
After battling some early-season injuries, Smith owns a 29-5 overall mark headed into his third state tournament. He is also the only current Big Black on the roster with a podium finish in his career.
Sophomore Logan Southall (25-11) repeated as a Region IV champion in the 152-pound weight class and seeks his first state victory, while sophomore Jacob Muncy (23-14) — this year’s AA-A Region IV Most Outstanding Wrestler — will be making his state debut after winning the heavyweight division at regionals.
A pair of freshmen will be making their state debuts after Christopher Smith (31-3) and Mitchell Freeman (40-8) captured regional titles at 106 and 126 pounds, respectively.
Seniors Jacob Roub (30-16) and Jacob Bryant (27-19) are making return trips to Big Sandy Superstore Arena after finishing third and fourth at 160 and 170 pounds, respectively, during the Region IV meet.
Sophomores Justin Cornell (39-6) and Juan Marquez (36-12) are also returning to the state event after a pair of regional runner-up efforts in the 113- and 195-pound weight classes.
Senior Clayton Hill (28-17) earned a regional runner-up effort at 182 pounds for his first state appearance, while sophomore Zac Samson (33-14) was also second at 145 pounds while locking up his first trip to the state tournament.
Freshman Wyatt Wilson (31-17) is making his state debut after placing third at regionals at 138 pounds, while sophomore Wyatt Stanley (17-12) is also headed to Big Sandy Superstore Arena for the first time after finishing fourth at 220 pounds.
The Big Blacks — who do not have a qualifier at 132 pounds — have only three seniors on the 13-man lineup headed to state. Only defending champion Independence has more individual qualifiers at the Class AA-A tournament.
The White Falcons finished 15th a year ago in the Class A portion of the AA-A meet, scoring four points from a pair of decision victories from four qualifiers.
This winter, the Red and White have three repeaters from their four qualifiers — including both grapplers that won matches a year ago.
Senior Ethan Herdman (37-9) will be making his third consecutive appearance at state after finishing as the 152-pound runner-up at regionals. Herdman — who owns over 100 career wins — is 1-4 previously at state.
Sophomore Trevor Hunt (33-12) is also looking for another state victory after placing second at regionals at 132 pounds.
Junior Antonio Serevicz (33-3) was also a Region IV runner-up at 220 pounds and is headed to his second consecutive state appearance while also searching for his first state victory.
Senior Christian Thomas (28-12) — who was fourth at regionals at 182 pounds — will be making his state debut.
The White Falcons have scored at least one point in nine of the last 11 state tournaments overall. Wahama is still searching for the program’s first state champion in wrestling.
Wirt County is the defending Class A champion entering the weekend, as is Parkersburg South at the Class AAA level.
The three-day event at Big Sandy Superstore Arena starts Thursday with opening round matches at 6:30 p.m.
Bryan Walters can be reached at 740-446-2342, ext. 2101.