Prep Notebook: Pt. Pleasant coach happy with ending to tourney
Until late Saturday night, things had not gone well for Point Pleasant in the 66th West Virginia High School Wrestling Tournament at Big Sandy Superstore Arena.
Reno Hill got the call to the mat for the finals at 170 pounds in Class AAA, marched out and won an 8-2 decision over Ripley's Nate Starkey to make things a bit more tolerable for coach John Bonecutter and the Black Knights.
"As bad a weekend as it's been, I've not been happy, I'm feeling better right now," Bonecutter said. "He's got so much heart."
Hill becomes the second state champion for Point Pleasant as a Class AAA school. The first was Alex Reed in 1999. Hill's victory also moved the Black Knights to sixth in the final team standings with 101 points. They had won the past three Class AA/A state titles, but didn't get a shot for a fourth as they moved up a class this season.
Hill finished second in the Region IV tournament to Cabell Midland's Nick Boone, losing 2-0 in overtime. That put the two wrestlers on opposite sides in the bracket and made a rematch in the finals possible. Boone, however, didn't make it.
"It made me work that much harder," Hill said of how he reacted after the regional defeat. "I wanted to meet him in the finals. Being the second (Class AAA) champ is the greatest feeling ever."
Starkey dropped to a knee in a starting position and Hill finally figured how to attack that style.
"Circle side to side," Hill said. "When there was an opening, go. When I got the lead, I said keep it now."
LET'S CELEBRATE: Winfield's Bryce Humphreys capped off his sophomore season with a state title at 126 with an 11-5 win over Ripley's Lucas Simpkins. That made his season record 46-2. It was the first meeting between the two.
"Wrestle smart," Humphreys said of his style. "I got lucky. He made a mistake and I capitalized on it."
Winfield had three placers and wound up ninth with 70.5 points. Humphrey becomes the third state champ in history at the school and first in Class AAA as well as for coach Mike Cochran.
"One of the hardest workers on the team," Cochran said of Humphreys. "He's a very good opportunist. One minute you think you've got him and then you don't. That's what makes the difference from last year. We he gets in trouble, he can get out. Last year someone else took advantage."
Humphreys put in a lot of workout time in the offseason, made a trip to nationals and then pushed himself during the season. "I think all the stuff I went through paid off," he said.
AN OFFICIAL NOW: Former Cabell Midland wrestler Louden Goodpaster worked as a referee this season. He was one of the officials at the state tournament. He split time at the scoring table and stepping onto the mats in the closing seconds to tell officials that time was up in the period/match.
TWO UNBEATENS: George Washington's Jake Smith and Parkersburg's Jared Haught finished their seasons unbeaten. Smith closed at 41-0 with a title at 160. Haught capped off a 50-0 campaign by winning at 182 for his third state title overall.
BEST SHOWING: Wahama placed 10th in Class AA/A with 67 points. That's the best showing for the White Falcons in tournament history. They have five state qualifiers and four placed. Placers were Crandale Neal (170), Randall Robie (126), Kane Roush (160) and Colton Neal (182).
WVU IN PURSUIT: West Virginia and Louisville are the latest schools to offer a scholarship to New Smyrna Beach High's D'Cota Dixon. Chris Hays, the recruiting coverage coordinator for the Orlando Sentinel, unveiled the news Thursday. Also on Dixon's list are Ball State, UMass, North Carolina State, North Carolina and Vanderbilt. Dixon, who'll be a senior this fall, is 5-11, 179 pounds. Dixon's brother Daryl is a former defensive back at Florida and now assistant coach at Ball State. Dixon plays mostly safety and running back for the Barracudas (9-1 last season). He's projected as a cornerback.
David Walsh is a reporter for The Herald-Dispatch. Contact him at 304-526-2759 or firstname.lastname@example.org.