Smith seeks All-American success in sophomore season
Finishing a season with a 24-14 record, a third-place finish in the 2017 Mid-American Conference tournament, and an NCAA National Tournament appearance would be expected from upperclassmen.
These statistics did not belong to an upperclassman, but from a freshman.
Those stats belonged to Mason Smith from the 2016-17 season.
Now in his sophomore season, the No. 20 ranked wrestler in the nation at 141 pounds looks to top those numbers.
As mentioned earlier, the Clio native finished his freshman campaign with a 24-14 record, recording six pins and five major decisions.
He also finished third in the Mid-American Conference tournament and was one of nine wrestlers to qualify for the 2017 National Tournament. He also found success in the classroom with a 3.73 GPA, earning Academic All-MAC.
Smith knew he was destined for success, but the process caught him a bit off guard.
“I’ve always thought I was a lot better than I really am,” Smith said. “(Success was) something I expected. The way it came was a surprise.”
In four years at Clio, Smith accumulated a 165-10 record with state titles at 112 pounds his sophomore season and at 119 pounds as a junior.
Smith finished his freshman season with the Mustangs with a fourth-place finish in the state finals at 103 pounds and finished his senior season third at 135 pounds.
Head coach Tom Borrelli said he wasn’t as surprised with Smith as he was happy with the freshman’s development throughout the 2016-17 season.
“He didn’t start out well, he had a rough first semester,” Borrelli said. “He kept getting better and better, and by the end of the year he was hard to beat. If he keeps making that progress this year we could have something special.”
During the offseason Smith devoted his time at CMU to become a better wrestler.
“He stayed up here and trained all summer,” Borrelli said. “This is the first time he’s really committed to wrestling year-round.”
Smith paid extra attention to small details himself, along with help from coaches in practices.
“I worked on my offense,” Smith said. “I worked a lot on my feet more than I have any other time. I worked on (being) on top better, getting turns instead of holding on for riding time.”
A typical wrestler at 141 pounds tends to possess a short and stalky build, but Smith blows the stereotype out of proportion.
“He’s long and lengthy, kind of funky,” Borrelli said. “He likes to roll around, wrestles different than most members on our team. When (teammates) wrestle him it helps them learn some things.”
Smith has two goals for the 2017-18 season - win the MAC tournament and finish top-four in the national tournament.
“I feel a lot more confident than last year,” Smith said. “I feel like I can beat a lot of good (wrestlers) this year.”
Smith started his Sophomore season with a third place finish at the Michigan State Open, and earned a 15-0 technical fall against Alex Hrisopoulos against MSU on Friday.