Morgan Smith has added his name to the list of Clan wrestlers who have achieved all-American status. By taking fourth this weekend at 197lbs, he has become just the third Clan wrestler to earn all-American honours since SFU joined the NCAA.
Smith started the tournament well, taking down Terrance Fanning in a convincing 12–7 victory to start the tournament. After that, he lost a close match in the quarter-finals to Luke Cramer of Ashland. Holding a lead with just 13 seconds on the clock, Smith made a costly mistake that took him out of the championship hunt.
It is easy for any athlete to let an early loss affect the rest of their tournament, but Smith did not let that happen. He immediately bounced back with an 8–4 decision to clinch all-American status. He followed up that performance with a decision and major decision over Joe Gomez and Evan Ramos respectively. Gomez placed second at last year’s tournament.
In the battle for third place, Smith fell to Cramer once again, this time 5–2 in a tense match. That match ended Smith’s season, his best to date. He finished with a 34–7 record while placing fourth at the national tournament.
Most impressively, he did so on an injured knee.
“It was tough, especially when doctors tell you that you shouldn’t compete,” Smith said. “But I wasn’t going to let my season go to waste over something that is just painful, not debilitating.”
Toughness has never been an issue for Smith, who is known as one of the hardest working athletes in the wrestling room. After failing to qualify for the national tournament in back-to-back years, Smith was finally able to do so, and walk away with all-American status while doing it. Despite the change in results, he said he did not change his gameplan.
“I don’t think I did anything differently,” said Smith. “I just continued to try new methods and have stuck to my principles of hard work and innovation.”
For athletes like Smith, who are known to be hard-working and talented, finding success like this is only a matter of time. “It feels great,” he said about his success at the national tournament. “I think everyone should set a goal for themselves based on what they determine as success, and for me, it was to be an all-American. Now that I have been there and experienced how close I was to being a finalist, I can use that as motivation and knowledge to win it all next year.”
Most people would take a break after such a long, gruelling season. For Smith, the ending of his collegiate season simply marks the beginning of another season. “I’m taking this week off, and then training for the US Open and other freestyle tournaments this summer,” Smith said.
This was the final tournament of the season for Clan wrestlers. However, they will be active at the senior level in national and international tournaments coming up. The US Open will take place from April 27–29, and will feature some of the best international wrestlers from around the world. After receiving all-American status, Smith knows he can compete at that level.