GALLIPOLIS, Ohio — There’s a first time for everything.
Point Pleasant came away with more than half of the total selections on the inaugural Ohio Valley Publishing wrestling team, as voted on by the three full-time sports reporters from the Gallipolis Daily Tribune, Point Pleasant Register and The Daily Sentinel.
This first-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 11 grapplers to state and finished tied for fourth as a team during their return to the Class AA-A ranks this past season — led the local programs with eight choices. PPHS also came away with both of the top individual honors.
Gallia Academy was next with three selections and River Valley had two representatives, while both Wahama and Meigs landed one honoree each.
Eighth-year Point Pleasant mentor John Bonecutter was a unanimous choice for Coach of the Year honors after leading the Red and Black to its first Class AA-A Region 4 team title since the 2012 campaign — Point’s last previous year at the double-A level before last winter.
Senior Grant Safford not only captured the selection at 182 pounds, but the three-time Region 4 champion and three-time state finalist was also unanimously chosen as the tri-county’s Most Outstanding Wrestler.
Safford — a four-year state qualifier and 2016 Class AAA state champion at 182 pounds — finished his senior campaign with a 44-3 overall record and placed second at state at 182 pounds. Safford was also the 195-pound triple-A runner-up as a sophomore.
Safford — who posted a career record of 169-25 at PPHS — was also named the 2016 OVP Super 25 Defensive Player of the Year in football this past spring. Safford has committed to play football at West Virginia Wesleyan.
Joining Safford on the OVP wrestling squad from Point Pleasant are Justin Cornell (106), George Smith (113), Logan Southall (126), Austin Wamsley (152), Andrew Roach (195) and Brian Gillispie (285).
Wamsley was a Region 4 champion and went 38-4 at 152 pounds as a senior, which also led to his third career state appearance. Roach — also a senior — went 39-12 at 195 pounds and ended up third at state in his only career appearance, while Gillispie went 32-13 as a junior and made his second state appearance as a heavyweight.
Smith — the 2016 Class AAA champion at 106 pounds — compiled a 43-8 mark as a sophomore while finishing as the state runner-up at 113 pounds.
Cornell amassed a 39-9 overall record during his freshman campaign at 106 pounds, which included a Region 4 championship and his first state appearance. The same was true for Southall, who finished 31-18 at 126 pounds.
Seniors Jared Stevens (120), Kaleb Crisenbery (145) and Hunter Jacks (170) represented the Blue Devils, with Jacks — a Lourdes University signee — being the only one of the trio to never qualify for state. All three were also Ohio Valley Conference champions this season.
Stevens — who made it to state at 106 pounds as a freshman — put together a 45-5 overall record at 120 pounds during his senior campaign, while Jacks went 42-10 at 170 pounds.
Crisenbery — the lone Ohio state qualifier in 2017 — owned a 51-6 record at 145 pounds before the start of the OHSAA tournament this weekend and will finish the year with more wins than any other member of this list.
Junior Jeremiah Dobbins (138) and sophomore Eric Weber (160) represented the Raiders, who finished second in the final TVC standings. RVHS also had six grapplers qualify for districts, the most of any of the Ohio programs.
Dobbins was a TVC champion and amassed a 42-10 overall mark at 132 pounds, while Weber was a TVC runner-up and went 37-14 at 160 pounds.
Meigs senior Trae Hood was chosen at 220 pounds after consecutive district appearances and a 36-7 record this past winter.
Wahama junior Dalton Kearns — a 2015 Class AA-A state qualifier — claimed the 132-pound spot after going 13-4 overall. Kearns did not compete this year in the postseason due to an injury, but the White Falcons still managed to send four grapplers to state.
Eastern and South Gallia were the only programs in the tri-county area that did not have a representative on the OVP wrestling team.
Wahama junior Ethan Herdman (145) and freshman Trevor Hunt (120), Gallia Academy juniors Caleb Greenlee (106) and Kyle Greenlee (113), River Valley sophomore Jacob Edwards (113) and senior Robert Drummond (285), Meigs junior Nathan Gearheart (145) and Point Pleasant junior Jacob Roub (145) were also in consideration.
Bryan Walters can be reached at 740-446-2342, ext. 2101.