RIPLEY, W.Va. — If the regular season is a tuneup for the tournament, then the Big Blacks are ready to throttle their engines forward.
The Point Pleasant wrestling program completed its historic 2019-20 regular season in convincing fashion Friday night with a dominant 63-9 victory over host Ripley in the ninth annual Battle for the Shield dual held in Jackson County.
The Big Blacks — the top-ranked program in West Virginia’s Class AA field — secured the program’s fourth consecutive victory over the Vikings while improving their all-time mark to 7-2 overall in the head-to-head matchup.
It was only the second team in the decade of matchups that the road team won, and the 54-point margin of victory was also the largest by either program since the event started in 2011. It is also the first time a senior class has gone unbeaten over a 4-year span.
PPHS won the initial dual by a 40-27 count in 2011, then earned wins of 43-27 in 2013, 40-34 in 2015, 40-33 in 2017, 54-19 in 2018 and 55-9 last winter.
Ripley, conversely, collected wins in 2012 (46-24) and in 2016 by a 61-12 margin. The 2014 dual was postponed due to inclement weather.
The Big Blacks went 12-2 overall in the 14 individual weight classes, which included five pinfall wins, a technical fall and a major decision. RHS, on the other hand, recorded a single pinfall out of its two victories.
Derek Raike (132), Mitchell Freeman (145), Zac Samson (160), Brayden Connolly (182) and Juan Marquez (220) each scored pinfall wins in their respective divisions.
Christopher Smith earned a 15-0 technical fall at 126 pounds, while Wyatt Wilson scored an 8-0 major decision at 152 pounds.
Mackandle Freeman (113) and Isaac Short (120) both won by decision, while Parker Henderson (106), Justin Bartee (138) and Logan Southall (170) each won via forfeits.
Tyler Hinzman was pinned by Austin Boggess in the 195-pound match, while Nick Ball suffered a 3-0 setback to Matthew Moore in the heavyweight round.
Point Pleasant — the reigning Class AA state champions — finished the 2019-20 regular season with a perfect 35-0 mark in head-to-head duals, including a pair of wins from the West Virginia Wrestling Coaches Association Class AA Team Duals tournament held last weekend at The Greenbrier.
The Big Blacks have defeated 34-of-35 opponents by double digits, with the exception coming from perennial powerhouse Parkersburg South (32-27) back on Jan. 11 at Cabell Midland High School.
PPHS reached 80-or-more points as a team five different times this year and has won 31 duals by 30-or-more points. The Red and Black also shut out a half-dozen teams in head-to-head matchups.
Point Pleasant owns victories over the top two Class AAA teams in Parkersburg South and Wheeling Park, as well as defending Georgia state runners-up Richmond Hill (6A) and Veterans (5A).
The Big Blacks also have wins over highly-ranked teams such as Christiansburg (VA), Kellem (VA) and Johnson Central (KY), as well as defending Maryland state champion Southern Garrett.
For the regular season, Point Pleasant has accumulated a 534-130 overall record in individual matches, including a 303-53 advantage in pinfall wins. Point’s only setback of the season came in a 5.5-point loss to Aurora (OH) at the Alliance Top Gun Tournament.
The Class AA Region IV tournament will be held Friday and Saturday at the Jackson County Armory in Millwood.
Bryan Walters can be reached at 740-446-2342, ext. 2101.