Heavyweight Smith regains confidence, experience on the mat


Brian Achenbach/Iowa State Daily

Redshirt freshman Quean Smith, heavyweight, picks up his opponent Terrance Jean-Jacques, of Iowa, on Dec. 1 at Hilton Coliseum. Smith won his match, but Iowa State lost the dual to Iowa 23 to 9.

Beau Berkley

Something was missing from ISU heavyweight Quean Smith’s arsenal last season. 

Smith picked up big wins against Oklahoma’s Ross Larson, who Smith defeated twice, as well as Iowa’s Terrance Jean-Jacques in overtime. However, the losses came with the wins, as Smith finished the season with a 9-15 overall record. 

“Last year was a little rough,” Smtih said. “It was my first time back on the mat, but this year I’ve gained a lot of confidence in myself.”

After graduating high school in 2011, Smith took a few years off from wrestling to get his grades up in order to be accepted into Iowa State. Smith took eight online courses during his time off from the mat as well as the ACT to get his scores up. 

Smith’s academics improved, and he was cleared to wrestle at Iowa State and be the starter at heavyweight for the 2013 season. But Smith’s start to his Cyclone career didn’t go as planned, as he was pinned in his first two matches. 

“When you really think about it, Quean hadn’t wrestled for two years,” said ISU coach Kevin Jackson. “He had a year out of high school that he was trying to become eligible to get to college, so that whole year he didn’t compete. When he got to Ames he struggled with his weight. We struggled with his weight so that was another year he didn’t have competition.”

Smith went back and forth in the win loss column for the remainder of the season, showing his potential at times and then showing the complete opposite at others. As the 2014 season has slowly begun, Smith has started out on a different note than last year. 

At the Kaye Young Open at on Nov. 1 in Mason City, Smith pinned his first three opponents before drawing teammate Tyler Swope in the finals – a match Smith would win by 7-3 decision. 

“Him wrestling at NIACC and winning that, I think he wrestled really tough,” said 174-pounder Tanner Weatherman. “With him and guys like Gabe [Moreno] — younger guys — you can see [confidence] in their training and you can see it when they wrestle on the mat, so that’s big for them.”

Despite the up and down moments of Smith’s campaign last year, Jackson said that the experience Smith gained last year will only help him improve this season.

“Wrestling is hard, it’s not like you can walk off a bus or take time off and go out there and be at your best,” Jackson said. “I think it was him being back in the room everyday and then competing. There’s no better way to prepare than live competition, and he got a lot of competition in. He didn’t have his best year, but he got a lot of competition in.”

Iowa State travels to Boise, Idaho Nov. 14 to take on Utah Valley and Boise State in a double dual.