The Scotland varsity wrestling team continued to stake their claim in the Southeastern Conference Jan. 16, besting Hoke 46-36 to move to 2-0 in conference competition.
Kicking things off for the Scots Wednesday night was 145-pounder Willis Benoit, who earned a third-period pin to help his team propel to a typically-strong start. Scotland continued to roll once the top-ranked 160-pound wrestler in the state Adrian Soto-Perez took the mat, as he polished off his opponent with a first-period pin.
Then came the 170-pound weight class, which is home to arguably the best pound-for-pound wrestler in the state Nick Kee. Yet, the Scots forfeited at 170 to give Hoke a much-needed points boost after the Bucks fell behind early.
It was for good reason though, as Kee opted to take on Hoke’s Dejaun McClean who is currently the third-ranked 182-pound wrestler in the state.
“If there’s a guy close to me in weight, then I’ll take him on because I want to wrestle the best,” Kee said. “It shows dominance that I can go out of my weight class and win matches. I’m always looking for that challenge, and I’m not going to run from anybody.”
Kee would handle the bigger McClean with ease, besting the 182-pounder in the first 30 seconds of the second period via the 15-0 technical fall to remain unbeaten on the year.
Scotland 195-pounder Matt Sabin continued the Scots’ momentum by pinning his opponent in the second round, but a Hoke pin and Scotland forfeit in the heavyweight division kept the Bucks within striking distance throughout the match.
It was then time for a trio of the Scots' younger wrestlers to showcase their skills, led off by sophomore Joey Dinkins who earned a pin in the first period of his 106-pound match. He was followed by Josiah Williams (113) and Zitemus Henderson (120), who were each tasked with facing two of Hoke’s top wrestlers.
Both would ultimately lose in the third period via pin. But Scotland coach Nicky Kee saw his younger wrestlers demonstrate that they can hang with the best in the state.
“Those guys step up each day in practice and look to challenge themselves day in and day out,” Kee said. “They hold their own against our best and it’s starting to pay off on the mat. The future of Scotland wrestling is in good hands with guys like Josiah, Joey and Zitemus.”
As he has done in recent weeks, Scotland 126-pound senior Deshawn Williams helped seal the victory for his team against Hoke by registering a pin in the first period of his match. After a Hoke forfeit in the 132-pound weight class, Scotland junior Jessi Kee shut the door emphatically on the Bucks by earning a 16-0 technical fall on her opponent in the third period.
Scotland is set to return to action today at home by hosting the “Scotland Scramble” wrestling tournament, which is set to feature roughly 10 teams.