George Washington and Charleston Catholic have been nothing if not consistent in recent years where their athletic programs are concerned. Thus, it should be of little surprise that those two Charleston schools once again finished on top of the Gazette's annual all-sports standings.
Point Pleasant? Well, the Big Blacks' forte has not been consistency during the 16 years in which the Gazette Excellence in Sports Awards (GEISA) have been tallied. But in the school's final year in Class AA, it struck gold.
Point Pleasant emerged as a razor-thin winner in a three-school battle for first place in Class AA, edging Shady Spring and Ritchie County for its first-ever all-sports championship. George Washington in Class AAA and Charleston Catholic in Class A were runaway winners.
The standings, compiled by the Gazette since the 1996-97 school year, are based on a system that awards points (8-7-6-5-4-3-2-1) to the top eight finishers in each of the 19 sports sanctioned by the West Virginia Secondary School Activities Commission.
George Washington and Charleston Catholic each have a streak of all-sports wins going. For the Patriots, this year's title is the third in a row and by the widest margin yet. After edging Jefferson by two points in 2009-10 and Wheeling Park by five points last year, GW won by a rather comfortable 111/2 points, 621/2-51, over runner-up Morgantown this year.
Charleston Catholic's streak is even more impressive. The Irish won for the fourth year in a row and the eighth time in 16 years, this time by 18 points, 641/2-461/2, over Williamstown.
But in Class AA, which always seems to be tighter than the other two divisions, the margin was a mere half point. Point Pleasant finished with 381/2 - the final margin coming when the Big Blacks made it to the state baseball tournament - just ahead of Shady Spring's 38 points. Ritchie County was third with 361/10 points.
Beginning Wednesday, the Gazette will take a closer look at each of the divisions and the champions, but here is a capsule of each race during the just-completed athletic year.
George Washington just keeps on churning out athletic success in the big schools division. In addition to winning the GEISA title for the third year in a row, it is the Patriots' sixth top-two finish in the last seven years.
As was the case a year ago, GW scored in 10 of the 19 sports, but this year dominated the boys sports. The Patriots won soccer and swimming titles and finished second in football, basketball and tennis, all from the boys. Along with a tie for third in golf, that gave GW 421/2 points in boys sports, which would have been a half point out of second place in the overall standings.
Morgantown, which had six top-five finishes in a row between 2002 and 2007, had not been a contender of late, finishing 20th, 17th and eighth the last three years. But four girls state championships (cross country, soccer, swimming and track) pushed the Mohigans to their second runner-up spot ever (2005 was the other).
Finishing third with 43 points was the smallest Class AAA school according to the enrollment figures used to draw the current class lines. But when the new four-year classification cycle begins next year, Bridgeport will be back down in Class AA, where the Indians won four GEISA titles and had a second-place finish in the five years prior to moving up a class.