ALLIANCE, Ohio — It took the top guns from various states to finally knock Point Pleasant off.
The Point Pleasant wrestling team landed nine top-8 finishes and a single weight class champion en route to a runner-up effort on Friday and Saturday at the 34th annual Top Gun Wrestling Tournament at Harry Fails Gymnasium inside of Alliance High School.
The Big Blacks had come away with top honors in every other event they had competed in before last weekend, but the Red and Black were really close to keeping that impressive streak intact.
PPHS had three grapplers end their respective weekends in championship finals, plus had a half-dozen top-4 efforts by the end of the 2-day affair.
Point Pleasant completed the event with a combined 54-24 overall mark that included 24 pinfall wins while finishing weekend with 224.5 points.
Defending Top Gun champion Aurora — the reigning Division II runners-up in Ohio — ultimately repeated after claiming a tournament-best three weight class champions en route to a winning tally of 230 points.
Akron St. Vincent-St. Mary was third overall with 140.5 points, while Austintown (138) and Highland (133.5) rounded out the top-5 spots in a 51-team scoring field.
West Virginia-based programs Huntington (88), Herbert Hoover (56) and Ripley (32) also respectively placed 11th, 27th and 44th overall at the event.
Derek Raike was the lone PPHS grappler to come away with a title after going 6-0 with two pinfalls and a technical fall on his way to winning the 132-pound division.
Parker Henderson and Justin Bartee both came away with runner-up efforts in their respective weight classes. Henderson went 4-1 with one pinfall at 106 pounds, while Bartee was 5-1 with two pinfalls at 138 pounds.
Isaac Short went 5-1 overall with five pinfalls while finishing third at 120 pounds, while Christopher Smith was 6-1 with two pinfalls and a technical fall en route to a third place effort at 126 pounds.
Mitchell Freeman ended up fourth at 145 pounds with a 5-2 mark that included two pinfalls. Juan Marquez placed fifth at 195 pounds with a 4-2 record and two pinfalls.
Zac Samson was sixth at 160 pounds with a 5-3 record that included one pinfall and a single major decision. Logan Southall was eighth at 170 pounds with a 4-3 mark and two pinfalls.
The remaining five Point Pleasant grapplers did not place, but the quintet at least came away with a win apiece in their respective divisions.
Wyatt Wilson was 4-2 overall at 152 pounds and Wyatt Stanley finished the weekend 3-2 with one pinfall at 220 pounds.
Mackandle Freeman (113), Brayden Connolly (182) and Nick Ball (285) all posted identical marks of 1-2. Only Freeman did not record a pinfall win out of that trio.
“It was a dog fight all weekend. Aurora has a very tough team and that tournament had a lot of great teams and individual wrestlers,” PPHS coach John Bonecutter said following the tournament. “Our guys wrestled hard and we are proud of that. We wanted to win it, but it’s hard not to be pleased with where we ended up.”
Point Pleasant led the event after Day 1 by 4.5 points. The Big Blacks had 143 points following Friday’s round, with Aurora sitting right behind them with 138.5 points.
Akron SVSM joined Aurora with multiple weight class champions after claiming two divisional titles.
Point Pleasant was joined by Hawken, Austintown, Newcomerstown, Nordonia, Worthington Kilbourne, Massillon Perry and Ellwood City (PA) with one weight class champion apiece.
The Big Blacks return to the mats on Friday and Saturday as they travel to Big Sandy Superstore Arena in Huntington to defend their team title at the WSAZ Invitational.
Bryan Walters can be reached at 740-446-2342, ext. 2101.