CHARLESTON, W.Va. — If Day 1 was any indication, the theme of this mid-week meet is going perfectly.
The Point Pleasant track and field programs entered Laidley Field looking to repeat as boys champions and also close out the stellar careers of a couple of seniors on the girls side, and all of those things started with a bang Wednesday night after the conclusion of first session of the 2022 WVSSAC Class AA championships being held at Laidley Field.
The Black Knights and the Lady Knights have already combined to secure four state championships in individual events, with three of those four title-winners repeating in those same events from a year ago.
Seniors Addy Cottrill and Elicia Wood respectively repeated as champions in the shot put and high jump events on the girls side, while junior Cody Schultz locked up his second straight discus crown in the boys tournament.
Senior Jonathan Griffin earned his first individual state championship in the 400-meter dash as well.
The Black Knights also claimed two other podium finishes on Wednesday night as senior Cael McCutcheon was second in the pole vault with a cleared height of 13 feet even, while senior Luke Derenberger was sixth in the long jump with a distance of 19 feet, 5.75 inches.
Both Point Pleasant squads are currently second in the team standings following a handful of Day 1 finals. Winfield is also the current leader in both sets of standings headed into Thursday’s final two sessions.
The Lady Generals — the defending Class AA champions on the girls side — currently lead the 15 scoring team field with 38 points, while the Lady Knights are second with 20 points.
The Generals also have 38 points on the boys side, while the Black Knights are the current runners-up out of 15 scoring teams with 29 points.
Cottrill became the first state champion for PPHS on Wednesday evening after posting a winning mark of 38 feet, 8 inches in the shot put final.
It was officially the third championship in the shot put for Cottrill, who also won the event in both her freshman and junior campaigns. The 2020 track and field season was cancelled due to the coronavirus outbreak.
Cottrill — who will be going for her second straight discus title on Thursday — has officially won four state crowns in her 4-year career, and the school is also recognizing her as a 4-time champion in the shot put event … which is a first for any athlete in Point Pleasant history.
Cottrill — the school’s alltime leader in state championships in track and field history — noted that this latest title was somewhat bittersweet, being that it will be the last time she competes in this event at PPHS.
But, as she was quick to clear up, it’s definitely a plus to be going out on top — especially with the way things have played out over her four years of high school.
“It’s been an amazing four years. It’s been a lot of fun and I’ve been very blessed to be part of some really great accomplishments here at Point Pleasant,” Cottrill said. “I don’t want to say that this is heartbreaking, but it’s kind of sad to know that this is my last time throwing the shot put for Point Pleasant. It’s sad to know that I have only one more event to compete in at Point Pleasant.
However, I know that what I’ve accomplished and what we’ve accomplished the last four years will be a new standard for this program to shoot for in the years to come. Outside of the COVID year, there isn’t much I’d really change about how things have worked out. It’s nice to be going out on top again.”
Wood closed her high jump career out in style by winning the event with a height of 5 feet, 7 inches — which is two inches better than Wood’s previous career-best mark. The school’s previous record in the high jump was 5 feet, 6.25 inches.
Wood was second in this event as a freshman to teammate Samantha Saunders, then COVID came during her sophomore campaign in 2020 before she recorded her first and only state championship prior to this weekend last spring.
Wood — who will be competing in the 100m hurdles, 300m hurdles and 4×102.5m shuttle hurdle relay finals on Thursday — still has three more chances to add another feather to her cap, but the senior joins only Cottrill and Alea Hipes as the only PPHS female athletes to repeat as state champions in the same event.
Afterwards, Wood spoke about closing out her final week of competition at Point Pleasant with a state crown … and her hopes of adding more by the end of the 2-day meet.
More importantly, Wood was just proud to have been part of something truly special at Point Pleasant over the last four years … something that should make the track and field program even better moving forward.
“All I really wanted to do this weekend was win a state title and beat the school record in this event, and then I did it on my first attempt at 5-7. I really didn’t know what to think at that point because I was so happy and the emotions just consumed me,” Wood said. “It was a rush that I have never experienced at a track meet, and that’s probably because it’s a record I’ve been chasing for four years now. I’m going out how I wanted to, so I’m pretty proud right now. Plus, I get to shoot for three more of these tomorrow. I can’t think of a better to way to end it all at Point Pleasant than like this.”
Schultz, on the other hand, is the lone underclassmen from the trio of state champions, so his takeaway of the day was a bit more relaxed than the ladies. However, Schultz did miss setting a new school record in the discus by less than a yard after winning his second crown with a throw of 179 feet, 4 inches.
“It’s a little different, but it’s the same feeling as last year. I’m proud to be a state champion, but there is some pressure that comes with being the defending champion and trying to repeat,” Schultz said. “I’m glad with the way things have gone today, although I was really hoping to get the school record owned by Cody (Mitchell). I guess I’ll just have to settle for being a champion again and try for his record next year.
Schultz will also be competing in both the shot put and high jump finals on Thursday, a pair of events that he won at the Region IV tournament held at Winfield last week.
The final championship of the night went to Griffin, who was more than a second faster than the rest of the field while posting a winning mark of 49.95 seconds.
The Lady Knights had a handful of other competitors in action on Wednesday night as Hannah Baker was 12th in the shot put (29-10) and Katie McCutcheon placed 13th in the 400m dash with a time of 1:05.19.
Wood also advanced to the 100m hurdles final with a top qualifying time of 15.97 seconds.
Jeremy Connolly ended up finishing eighth for the Black Knights in the shot put final with a heave of 128 feet, 11 inches. Ian Wood also had the fastest qualifying time in the 110m hurdles with a mark of 15.98 seconds.
Preston Taylor advanced to the finals in both the 100m dash (11.10) and 200m dash (23:08), while Jonathan Griffin qualified for the finals in the 200m dash (23:12).
Point Pleasant still has several athletes competing in a multitude of events Thursday, with Session 2 slated to start at 10 a.m. The final session of the Class AA tournament will begin at noon.
Editor’s Note: Due to the timing of the 400m final, the Ohio Valley Publishing staff was unable to obtain a comment from Griffin on his state championship.
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Bryan Walters can be reached at 740-446-2342, ext. 2101.