Smith left Boilermakers hoping to make impact
There is an old adage that says, “Opportunity is knocking on your door.” According to UVU wrestler Ethan Smith, he knocked on opportunity’s door.
“I saw opportunities here,” Smith said. “I saw a lot of potential where I can succeed and reach college goals I had wrestling here in Utah.”
Smith was raised in Utah after being born in Albion, Mich. He grew up in the Utah wrestling program, becoming a four-year varsity letter-winner at Wasatch High School as well as a two-time Utah State High School Champion, winning individual state titles as a senior and junior.
Although he grew up in Utah, he was recruited by Purdue and spent the 2010-2011 season there as a redshirt. Although Purdue was a more well-known program than Utah Valley, Smith believes there is more of a perk, as well as an opportunity, to wrestle for the Wolverines.
“[Purdue] is really intense, it seems,” Smith said. “It seems like there’s a lot more pressure there because there is a lot more tradition there that you are expected to back up. Where here, it’s something we’re creating. We’re trying to create to have that tradition.”
Smith is one of the 24 freshmen on UVU’s wrestling team, which he thinks will bring more opportunities to compete.
“It gives you an opportunity to show everybody what you’ve got,” Smith said. “Just being a freshman, you’re not as known. Your name is not as out there as other people. It gives me just a drive so people can know who I am. It gives us confidence just knowing that we’re young. We still have time to develop and get better and reach our goals and get to where we need to be.”
Head coach Greg Williams knows about that developmental process. He has been coaching these freshman since the beginning of the season and, according to Williams, it is the same with Smith.
“This is a transition for Ethan a little bit,” Williams said. “I don’t think his progression has been super fast, but I think that he’s trying to get little things down that we’re trying to adjust that will help him later. No question he’ll be one of the top guys in his weight division next year.”
Smith has shown recently that he is progressing as he has capitalized on his opportunities. When facing Air Force, he was one of the three Wolverines that picked up victories by pinning Colby Kluesner. He then followed that night by traveling up to Laramie to face No. 3 Shane Onufer. Smith kept it a close match, being defeated by decision, 5-2.
“I’m super happy that he is here,” Williams said. “He’s a good leader on our team. He’s just a good quality kid. We’re looking for not just good wrestlers. We’re looking for kids who want to do well in school, that are good leaders on and off the mat and Ethan just fits that so well.”
Smith would not put himself above anyone else on the team, but he understands what it takes to be the next big thing in college wrestling.
“I expect more out of myself,” Smith said. “Wrestling, it’s a team sport but at the same time, to really excel, you’ve got to push yourself individually.”
By Alex Rivera