As the weather warmed up, so too did the accomplishments.
After focusing on the highlights from fall and spring over the last two days, the 2019 spring sports season within the Ohio Valley Publishing area was arguably the best of the entire school year.
Each county produced state qualifiers in track and field as the tri-county area combined to qualify 44 different student-athletes out to the final weekend of each state’s respective championship meet. Thirty-nine of those state qualifiers came from Mason County, including the area’s only state champions.
Point Pleasant junior Samantha Saunders won the high jump and freshman teammate Addy Cottrill came away with the shot put title in Class AA, helping guide the Lady Knights to a third place team finish.
The Black Knights placed ninth in the Class AA boys meet, while the Wahama girls mustered a half-point and finished 26th in the Class A championship.
Mason County ended up churning out 17 podium finishes between the Point and Wahama.
Meigs County produced three of the five state qualifiers in Ohio, including a grand finale for Meigs senior Kassidy Betzing.
A four-time state qualifier in the long jump, Betzing ended up third overall after barely qualifying for the final. The TVC record-holder, Betzing finished her career as a five-time state podium placer, including four in the D-2 long jump.
Eastern’s Noah Browning secured fifth place in the D-3 400m dash final, becoming the first Eagle to score at state since 2012. Junior exchange student Caterina Miecchi had to postpone her return flight to Italy to compete in the D-3 shot put final for the Lady Eagles.
South Gallia junior Kyle Northup became the first South Gallia athlete to ever compete at the state track and field tournament, placing 12th in the D-3 boys high jump. River Valley freshman Lauren Twyman also became the first Lady Raider to compete at the state meet since 2011.
There were 25 different league champions in track and field between the Tri-Valley Conference and Ohio Valley Conference meets, but only Eastern managed a team title after the girls picked up their 10th consecutive TVC Hocking crown.
The diamond proved to be a pretty special place this spring, particularly in Mason and Meigs counties.
Wahama accounted for half of the area’s regional qualifiers as both the baseball and softball teams rolled to sectional titles before having their respective seasons end two wins shy of the state tournament.
The Lady Falcons finished 27-3 overall and went unbeaten in TVC Hocking play (16-0) en route to an outright championship. It was the program’s second sectional title in three postseasons as well.
The White Falcons ended up second in TVC Hocking play, but the Red and White amassed a 24-8 record that also resulted in the program’s first sectional title since 2016.
Point Pleasant baseball also made a triumphant return to the regional level after going 23-9 overall while winning the program’s first sectional title since 2016.
Speaking of triumphant returns to regionals, Southern picked up the program’s 13 district championship while making its first Division IV Sweet 16 appearance since 2013. The Tornadoes (18-8) ultimately lost to Newark Catholic for an eighth consecutive time at the regional level.
The Eastern baseball team won its first 17 baseball games and ultimately went 20-5 overall, securing the program’s first-ever back-to-back 20-win campaigns. The Eagles went 15-1 en route to winning the TVC Hocking baseball title.
Eastern softball also won a sectional title and completed the year with a 14-8 record after falling in the Division IV district final.
Point Pleasant also had a pair of tennis players reach the state tournament as the duo of Carson Chambers and McKeehan Justus competed in the third doubles bracket. Chambers and McKeehan lost their opening match and finished the season with a 19-3 overall mark.
Wahama also accepted an invitation to join the Little Kanawha Conference in late May. Wahama officially opens LKC competition in the fall of 2020, making this upcoming school year the final one as members of the TVC Hocking.
The top sports story from the Ohio Valley Publishing area will appear in the weekend sports editions of the Point Pleasant Register and the Sunday Times-Sentinel.
Bryan Walters can be reached at 740-446-2342, ext. 2101.