Smith to Wrestle for National Title Saturday Night
OMAHA, Neb. - With a pair of wins at the 2010 NCAA Division I Wrestling Championships in Omaha, Neb. on Friday, March 19, Boise State junior Kirk Smith is now one win away from joining the most elite wrestlers in school history as he will try and become just the third Bronco wrestler to bring home a national title, Saturday night.
Smith, the tournament's No. 1 seed at 184 pounds, entered Friday's competition with a 2-0 record. He finished the day still perfect at 4-0 on the weekend, 28-0 on the season.
"This just feels great," Smith said. "There is a whole lot of pressure off my back already. The overall feeling, I don't think it has sunk in yet. [But I'm still focused because] I've got one more match to go, but this is a childhood dream. I'm just one step closer."
Smith opened day-two of the national tournament with a highly anticipated quarterfinals match against two-time All-American, No. 9 seed Phillip Keddy of Iowa. Keddy gave Smith all he could handle after taking an early 2-0 lead in the match. Smith responded, however, with take downs in the second and third periods. He was able to ride out the last 00:50 of the match to cap off the win.
With the victory Smith earned a spot in the semifinals, where he would meet No. 4 Michael Cannon of American University. After three close matches to open the weekend Smith finally cut loose, beating Cannon by 11-2 major decision to earn a spot in the finals.
After a scoreless first period, Smith opened things up with an eight-point second period. He scored another two point take down in the third and held off Cannon from there.
"I'm just glad I could give a good showing. That makes me happiest."
Smith will meet Maxwell Askren of Missouri in Saturday's championship round, which will mark the first ever match between the two wrestlers. Regardless of the outcome, this already marks the best finish Smith has ever enjoyed at the NCAA tournament. As a freshman in 2008, Smith earned All-American honors with an eighth-place finish.
Smith is attempting to join Kirk White and Ben Cherrington as the only wrestlers in Boise State history to capture a national title. White accomplished the feat at 165 pounds in 1999. Cherrington (157 pounds) became the second Bronco to do so in 2006.
"My mind set is just to go out and have fun. My dad has always told me that. I think right now he might be right."
Saturday's championship round is scheduled to begin at 6:30 p.m. (CST). The finals will be televised on ESPNU. Live stats will also be available via ncaasports.com.
Hall Earns All-American Honors
No. 2 seed Adam Hall will join Kirk Smith on Saturday as the only two Broncos still competing in the NCAA tournament. Hall fell from the 157-pound championship bracket following an upset loss, 5-2, to No. 7 Chase Pami of Cal Poly in the Friday morning quarterfinals. He rebounded with a pair of wins to secure All-American honors.
Hall first beat Matt Moley (Bloomington), 9-8, to move on in the consolation bracket. In his second consolation match of the day Hall knocked off No. 12 Steven Brown with a 12-4 major decision. He is now scheduled to meet No. 5 Steve Fittery of American Saturday morning. Hall is still in contention for a third-place finish.
Four Fall on Friday
Boise State saw four wrestlers fall from tournament competition on Friday, starting with Nate Lee (174 pounds) and Matt Casperson (197) in the morning session. Lee concludes his collegiate career with an outstanding 83-32 all-time record; a 72.2 percent winning percentage. He was a four-time NCAA qualifier and a two-time Pac-10 Conference Champion.
In the evening session No. 8 Jason Chamberlain (149) and No. 9 Levi Jones (141) also saw their tournament runs come to an end. Both wrestlers lost in the quarterfinal round to fall to the consolation bracket, and then dropped their Friday evening consolation match to fall out of the tournament all together.
Boise State finished day-two of the NCAA tournament 12th in the team standings with 38.0 points. Iowa has led the way all weekend long, and now have 120.5 points.
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