OMAHA, Neb. - Boise State junior Kirk Smith saw his dream season come to an abrupt end, Saturday night (March 20), as the undefeated 184-pound No. 1 seed at the 2010 NCAA National Wrestling Championships fell in the title round to No. 6 Max Askren of Missouri, 10-3.
Smith entered the match with a perfect 28-0 record on the season after winning his first four matches at the national tournament. Poised to join the most elite group in Boise State wrestling history, Smith came out aggressive. His title shot appeared to be over almost as quick as it began, however, as a seven point first period by Askren put Smith in a huge hole early.
Smith took his first shot of the match just seconds after the opening whistle. Askren countered, scoring a two point take down just 00:30 into the match. Askren managed to accumulate over a minute of riding time, scoring a two point near fall and a three point near fall to end the period.
Trailing 8-1 midway through the third Smith finally scored a take down with just 1:10 remaining in regulation. He scrambled hard but the length of Askren never allowed Smith to get into his body again. Askren scored an escape and one point for riding advantage to extend his final lead to 10-3.
Smith's runner-up finish does earn him All-American honors for the second time in his career. He also wrestled to All-American honors in 2008 with an eighth-place finish. And while he failed to join the short list of Boise State individual national champions, he did manage to record the best finish by a 184-pound wrestler in school history. Cash Edwards previously had the best 184-pound national finish for Boise State as he placed sixth in 2001.
Smith also joins teammate Adam Hall as one of just 19 Bronco wrestlers to ever earn All-American status. In total, Boise State has achieved All-American wrestling honors 25 times. Smith is one of just five Bronco wrestlers to ever win multiple All-American honors, however. He joins Edwards (2000 and 2001), Larry Quisel (157 pounds - 1999 and 2000), Ben VomBaur (125 pounds - 2002 and 2003) and Kirk White (165 pounds - 1999 and 2000, 157 pounds - 2001).
Boise State fell just short of earning its' highest team finish at the national tournament as the Broncos concluded the weekend No. 11 (43.5 points) in the final team standings. The highest finish Boise State has ever enjoyed at the NCAA Championships was 10th in 1999. This does mark the best NCAA finish for Head Coach Greg Randall, who had previously led the Broncos to 12th-place finishes on two different occasions (2003 and 2009).
Hall Finishes Third, Earns All-American Honors
Boise State junior Adam Hall accomplished nearly all of his preseason goals, Saturday morning, as he wrestled his way back through the 157-pound consolation bracket to earn a third-place finish and All-American honors. Hall, who entered the tournament as a No. 2 seed, rebounded from a 5-2 quarterfinal upset to No. 7 Chase Pami of Cal Poly to earn All-American honors for the first time in his career.
"[Coming back] was huge because once my ultimate goal of winning a national championship was over for this year the next best thing was this," Hall said Saturday night. "My coaches told me to finish what I started. Coach [Chris] Owens told me last night, 'hey, people will respect a guy that comes back to take third after losing like that'. I knew I had to do it."
Hall entered Saturday's competition needing to win back-to-back matches to claim the third-place title. He opened the day against No. 5 seed Steve Fittery of American University who had been bumped from the 157-pound semifinals the night before. Hall needed all three rounds to finish off Fittery, as a two point near fall gave Hall the win by 6-4 decision.
With only one wrestler left in his way, Hall went to work. He would meet tournament long shot Justin Lister of Binghamton, who despite entering the tournament unseeded would make his way to the semifinals before losing. Hall proved to be just too much for Lister, however, as he scored two take downs and a two point reversal en route to the 8-0 major decision win.
"My coaches joke with me after I won that All-American qualifying match that it was a pretty big monkey off my back," Hall said. "I told them it was more like a silver back gorilla because two years of losing in that round was rough."
With his outstanding weekend, Hall joins an elite group in Boise State wrestling history as one of just 19 different Broncos to ever earn All-American wrestling status. As a program, Boise State has earned All-American honors 25 times in all.
"What I have learned is that nothing else matters. If you have a great tournament here, who cares if you are unranked, unseeded and have a losing record. If you come here and have a great tournament, that's what it is all about."