Published: January 27, 2014
Rashawn Benford wasn't messing around when he arrived at the Colorado Springs Metro Wrestling Championships on Saturday.
The Fountain-Fort Carson senior showed why he's one of the best in the state, completely dominating all competition in his path, with all five wins by pin.
"My teammates pushed me to do it; they wanted me to pin everybody and dominate the city, so that was the mindset - to pin everyone," Benford said.
Mission accomplished. Benford dispatched Palmer's Logan White in just 1 minute, 8 seconds. He then earned a third-period pin over Logan Hensley (Discovery Canyon) before defeating his next three opponents - Jonathon Sigley (Liberty), Connor Craddock (CSCS) and Grady Pina (Coronado) - in the second round.
"He's very dedicated and he has a leadership role on the team as a captain, which he takes seriously," F-FC coach Sam McGee said. "He's not just in it for himself - he's a team guy and he pushes himself and expects the same from his teammates."
When Benford isn't on the mat, he's watching it intently. McGee says Benford watches every one of his teammates' matches and is supportive of the rest of the squad.
"I expect us to send at least half the team to state, and all of our guys have the talent to do it," Benford said. "It's a confidence thing, and I hope they all wrestle with as much confidence as I am right now."
Benford, who finished fifth in the state last season, has every reason to feel unstoppable. Before he can go for a state title, he will first compete in a tournament in Kansas this weekend, and then must perform well at regionals.
McGee, who is in his first year as head coach, has been around the program for several years and says his star 152-pounder seems more dedicated than before.
"He was fifth at state last year - and wasn't a slouch by any means - but he's driven by being a senior," McGee said. "He knows this is it and is pushing himself a lot harder this season. He has a shot at a state title and is right up there with those top guys."
Benford's relentless style and unique body type make him a difficult matchup. He credits his mental game as much as his physical attributes for being able to win so often by pin.
"I want to wrestle every second I'm out there and tire them out by the end of the first period," Benford said. "Once they're tired, I feel it when the pin is about to happen. When I see the moment, I take it."
Benford is hoping to take this aggressive style to a state championship - and beyond. He plans to meet with several colleges in the next few weeks, including Nebraska and Oklahoma State.
"It feels worth it to know I spent hours on top of hours training and drilling and getting better this last year, and I'm looking forward to putting it to use," Benford said.