GALLIPOLIS, Ohio — The field is starting to catch up.
Point Pleasant came away with half of the divisional selections, but top honors ultimately went to the Buckeye State side of the river during the selection of the second annual Ohio Valley Publishing 14 wrestling team — as voted on by the three full-time sports reporters from the Gallipolis Daily Tribune, Point Pleasant Register and The Daily Sentinel.
The second-ever tri-county area all-star team was chosen under the pretense of selecting the top wrestler from Gallia, Meigs and Mason counties in each of the 14 weight classes. A Coach of the Year and a Most Outstanding Wrestler were also chosen as part of the local postseason honors.
The Big Blacks — who sent 13 grapplers to state and finished tied for fourth as a team during the Class AA-A tournament — led the local programs with seven choices. PPHS also led last year’s inaugural squad with nine total selections.
Wahama was next with three selections, while Gallia Academy, River Valley and Eastern each came away with two representatives.
Third-year Eastern mentor Josh Mummey was a unanimous choice for Coach of the Year honors after a season in which the Eagles literally rose from the ashes.
A fire at the beginning of the year completed wiped out a large portion of Eastern’s wrestling equipment and uniforms, which led to borrowing old singlets from Belpre just to get through most of the regular season.
By year’s end, when Eastern’s new apparel showed up, the Green and White had another breakthrough by sending the program’s first two qualifiers to the district level. Senior Gavin Erwin — who did not make OVP 14 team — also scored the Eagles’ first-ever district victory.
In just their third year as a varsity sport, Mummey managed to not only keep a growing program afloat through adversity — but also managed to advance the Eagles to another level.
And speaking of firsts, this year’s OVP 14 team actually features 15 grapplers because of a tie between two competitors at 113 pounds.
Because their resumés were too identical to differentiate between, both Kyle Greenlee of Gallia Academy and Jacob Edwards of River Valley shared the 113-pound honors — as well as also sharing in the area’s Most Outstanding Wrestler award.
Greenlee — a senior — repeated as champion at both the OVC and sectional levels, and also qualified for his third consecutive district tournament. Greenlee went 45-5 during his final prep season and finished his career with over 150 victories.
Edwards — a junior — also repeated as champion at both the TVC and sectional levels while also qualifying for his third consecutive district tournament. Edwards finished the year with a 44-8 mark and was fifth at the Division III district tournament held at Troy High School.
Both Greenlee and Edwards are two of the 13 first-time selections on the OVP 14 wrestling squad.
The lone repeat selections to the OVP 14 team are a pair of juniors in Point Pleasant’s George Smith and River Valley’s Eric Weber.
Smith posted a 32-7 overall mark and won the Region IV title while placing fourth at state at 120 pounds. Weber went 36-14 overall at 160 pounds and advanced to his second straight district tournament while also placing third at the TVC meet.
The half-dozen first-time selections from Point Pleasant included senior Jacob Bryant (170), sophomores Zac Samson (145), Juan Marquez (195) and Jacob Muncy (285), and freshmen Christopher Smith (106) and Mitchell Freeman (126).
Bryant went 28-21 overall and earned his second consecutive state tournament berth, while Marquez finished the year as a Region IV runner-up with a 38-14 mark. Muncy was the Region IV Most Outstanding Wrestler after winning the heavyweight division and ended the year with a 25-16 record.
Both Freeman and Christopher Smith went on to finish third at state after winning Region IV titles, while Samson was a Region IV runner-up and ended the season with a 34-16 record. Freeman completed the year with a 46-9 mark, while Smith went 35-4 overall.
Wahama landed a trio of first-time honorees on the list, all of whom recorded at least one win apiece at the state tournament after finishing second in their respective divisions at the Region IV tournament.
Senior Ethan Herdman — who ended his career with over 100 victories — went 38-11 overall and qualified for his third straight state meet at the 152 weight class, while junior Antonio Serevicz was 34-5 and earned his second state appearance at 220 pounds.
Sophomore Trevor Hunt went 34-14 for the White Falcons at 132 pounds. Hunt also scored points at the state level for a second straight postseason, the only WHS grappler from the trio to make that claim.
Lane ‘Boo’ Pullins was the second Blue Devil named to the OVP 14 list as the junior went 37-11 and won an OVC crown at 182 pounds. Pullins also advanced to his first district tournament this winter and played a large part in GAHS three-peating as OVC champions.
Junior Dillon Aeiker joined Coach Mummey in representing Eastern on the list. Aeiker posted a 35-16 overall mark at 138 pounds and joined Erwin as the only Eagles to ever advance to the district tournament.
Meigs and South Gallia were the only programs in the tri-county area that did not have a representative on the OVP 14 wrestling team.
Other grapplers in consideration for OVP 14 honors included Caleb Greenlee (106) and Logan Griffith (195) of Gallia Academy; Joseph Burns (120) and Nathan Michael (170) of River Valley; Wyatt Wilson (138) and Logan Southall (152) of Point Pleasant; Gavin Erwin (182) of Eastern; and Tanner Dennison (285) of South Gallia.
Point Pleasant’s Grant Safford (182) was the Most Outstanding Wrestler of the first OVP 14 team last year. Point’s John Bonecutter won Coach of the Year honors as well in 2017.
Bryan Walters can be reached at 740-446-2342, ext. 2101.