GREENSBORO — Willis Benoit’s quest for a 4A state wrestling championship fell just short over the weekend, as the Scotland senior was defeated by South Caldwell’s Carl Guess in 152-pound title bout Saturday at the Greensboro Coliseum.
Benoit was one of two Scotland grapplers to participate in the North Carolina High School Athletic Association tournament — his teammate, senior Zitemus Henderson, advanced to the quarterfinals of the 126-pound bracket before dropping his next two matches.
Benoit and Henderson helped Scotland finish in a tie for 25th with 22 points. Southeast Guilford tallied the most points with 119.5, and Jack Britt was the runner-up with 111.5. More than 75 4A schools convened in Greensboro for the three-day event.
Benoit’s run through the tournament started on Thursday when he opened with a thrilling 3-2 overtime victory over Glenn’s Jeremy Gonzalez. He then followed with another close win, this time defeating Leesville Road’s Cole Collins by a 4-2 decision in Friday’s quarterfinals. In the semifinals, Benoit scored his first pin of the tournament, downing Ben L. Smith’s Korey Cureton at the 5:45-mark.
That set the stage for Saturday’s championship round where Benoit faced off against Guess. The South Caldwell star, who is an Appalachian State commit and entered the match with a 54-1 record, notched his 55th victory when he defeated Benoit by decision, 3-0. The loss was Benoit’s first this season as the all-Southeastern Conference performer and 4A East Regional champion ends his year with a 17-1 record.
Henderson was also victorious in Thursday’s first-round action, as the 126-pounder rolled to an 8-4 decision over Broughton’s Nic Valdespino. But as was the case the last two seasons, Henderson’s bid for a state championship ended in the quarterfinals when he lost to Southeast Guilford’s David Grumby by technical fall, 18-3. Grumby, who finished the year with a 46-3 record, would go on to dominate the rest of the field en route to a 126-pound title.
Henderson dropped to the consolation bracket, where he was eliminated from the tournament by eventual fourth-place finisher Miles Grier of Ben L. Smith. Grier won by decision, 8-2. An all-SEC selection and a third-place finisher at the 4A East Regionals, Henderson concludes the season with a 15-3 mark.
Logan Martinez can be reached at 910-506-3170. Follow him on Twitter @L_Martinez13.