COLUMBUS — Tye Smith, the lone State qualifier for the Washington Blue Lion wrestling program, represented extremely well on Thursday in the prelimary rounds of the State Wrestling Individual Tournament. He went 1-1 on the day with an impressive showing in the consolation round with a fall over Jim Brittsan of Buckeye Valley in 1:34 while leading 10-0 at that point early in the match.
That win would set the possibility of an intriguing second round consolation match with a very familiar opponent.
If Russell Miller of Miami Trace lost his quarterfinal 170-pound match to the well-heralded Seth Williams of Tiffin Columbian, the two would meet for a highly-important consolation round match.
The winner would garner automatic State Placement and the loser would be eliminated from the tournament.
Miller lost a 3-2 decision to Williams thereby setting up the fourth time they would see each other this season. Miller won the dual meet match as well as the SCOL and Sectional Finals matches against Smith.
This is a different place and time to meet with much more at stake. A streaking Smith and an upset Miller, who could have legitimately defeated a reigning State runner-up, were to face off.
Two local young men, one State Placement at stake. The Washington hopeful looked strong off the whistle in period one.
The consolation rounds have a shortened first period. It is just one minute in length. Smith countered the offense of Miller on the feet. No wrestler scored in period one.
The second period started with Smith on bottom in the referee’s position. He would get to his feet and earn an escape to take his first lead against Miller this season. The one point lead did not last long. Miller prefers to be on the feet and he showed why soon after the escape. The Panther wrestler shot in and finished a move called a “dump.”
Grasping Smith’s elbow with one hand and pulling downward on it, hard, Smith fell to his back. Instantly, Miller, worked to the head and executed a spiral half-nelson as his Blue Lion counterpart was attempting to come off his back and avoid nearfall points. Miller tightened his hold and Smith bunched up with his shoulders on the mat. The referee called the pin at the 2:04 mark.
Louis Reid was disappointed but not totally surprised by the result.
“If we wrestle anyone else in the bracket I think we win,” Reid said. “Tye had a great week of practice. He knew what he needed to do. We lost our focus when things got tough in the second period. We should have bellied out of the take down move. We froze. We made a mistake and we paid for it. At this level, a small mistake can cost you.
“We have battled with Miller before,” Reid said. “I felt we were closer to him this year than in the past.”
Assistant coach Kyle Fenner was very praiseworthy of Smith’s season as a whole.
“We battled with Tye in years past. This year he was always doing the extra things to get better. He did sprints after practice. He got on the other wrestlers to work hard. The maturity he has shown has really progressed. He has had a terrific season. He set goals and worked hard to reach them.”
Coach Reid agreed and added a bit more.
“Tye was not satisfied with just being here. He wanted to place. He peaked at the right time.”
Tye Smith is a junior. He has one more season to prove he is among the elite wrestlers. He certainly showed he is capable by his results at this year’s State Tournament.