Benton Wrestler Now World Champ

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BENTON -- A 17-year-old wrestler in Columbia County now holds the title of world champ.

Zain Retherford of Benton won the gold medal wrestling in an international competition near Russia.

For his return home, residents in his hometown threw a parade in Zain’s honor Tuesday night.

If Zain Retherford is being treated like a conquering hero, it`s not too far from the truth.

The senior at Benton Area High School is back with a gold medal he won in an international wrestling competition in Azerbaijan, which is located near Russia.

“To win it, that`s what my goal was coming out here,” said Zain. “It`s the best I can do at this stage of my life, so just take it from here.”

Zain and nine other wrestlers from across the country represented the U.S.A. in the FILA Cadet World Championships.

His coach, Russ Hughes, joined Zain on his journey.

“It was pretty special to see somebody from a small town like ours doing so well,” said Hughes.

A parade was thrown in honor of Zain to welcome the native son home.

His mother Sarah says she`s overwhelmed, both by her son`s success and her hometown`s support. She says many of their friends were with them when they got the news Zain won the gold.

“We had a bunch of Benton supporters that came to the house that morning and everybody was sitting with us. It was just very emotional, it was so, so exciting,” said Sarah Retherford.

But despite being world champ, Zain and his coach remain grounded.

Zain is gearing up for another season with the Benton Tigers wrestling team and he and his coach say the hard work doesn`t stop.

“Get back to the drawing board, get back at it and the season`s right around the corner,” said Hughes.

“I`m still the same person, just have the same goals and just pursue them,” said Zain.