Point Pleasant has occasionally been a player in the GEISA standings, but more often an also-ran. The Big Blacks finished third in another air-tight race behind Winfield and Berkeley Springs in 2007-08 and had eighth-place finishes the year before and after that. But otherwise Point has never finished in the Top 10. Since moving up from Class AAA in 2002-03, the Big Blacks' average GEISA finish was 16th.
That changed this year with a strong performance in the 10 boys sports. Point won the wrestling state title for the third year in a row, but this time added runner-up finishes in football and track and the semifinal appearance in the baseball tournament. The Big Blacks also had top-eight finishes by reaching the boys basketball tournament and the regional soccer finals.
Throw in a fifth-place finish in cheerleading and seventh in girls track and that was a half point better than Ritchie County, which didn't score in many sports but scored big in those. The Rebels, fourth in the GEISA standings each of the last two years, won championships in golf and boys track and finished second in volleyball and softball, accounting for 30 of their 38 points.
Shady Spring, which made a dramatic rise from 12th place last year, won no titles, but had top-four finishes in football and golf on the boys side and cross country, soccer and softball for girls. Shady scored in 10 sports, more than any other Class AA school, to finish less than 21/2 points out of first.
Both Point Pleasant and Shady Spring picked the right time to contend. Both move up to Class AAA in the fall. Point is the fifth different winner in the division in the last five years, following Winfield, Ravenswood, Grafton and Oak Hill.
Two things are fairly notable about Charleston Catholic's fourth straight GEISA title: the margin and the runner-up.
By any other measure, the 18-point margin is a landslide. In Class AA, the composite margin for the last four winners is less than 10 points. But it's also a photo finish compared to the last two years. The Irish won by 432/3 points last year and by 489/10 points the year before, each time more than doubling the point total of the runner-up.
As for that runner-up, for only the fourth time in 16 years the top two were not both private schools. Williamstown is the only non-Catholic school ever to finish in the top two in Class A and this year did it for the fourth time. The Yellow Jackets were also runners-up in 2003, 2004 and 2010. In fact, since moving down from Class AA in 2002-03, Williamstown has finished second or third every year.
Still, Charleston Catholic's win this year was impressive. The Irish won five state championships (soccer, golf, basketball and tennis on the boys side and tennis for girls) and had enough points in boys sports alone (481/2) to win the all-sports title.
Wheeling Central, which is one GEISA title behind Charleston Catholic (8-7) in the 16-year history of the ratings, finished fourth, behind St. Marys. While in the other classes the contenders tend to fluctuate, this is the fourth straight year those four schools have finished in the top four.
Reach Dave Hickman at 304-348-1734 or dphickm...@aol.com or follow him at Twitter.com/dphickman1