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Smith takes sixth at state tournament

March 06, 2001|By ERIC GALVAN, Sports Writer

For four seasons Imperial High School's A.J. Smith has built a reputation as one of the best high school wrestlers in the Imperial Valley.

Smith's high school wrestling career culminated Saturday when he took sixth place in the 154-pound division at the state tournament in Stockton.

For many just to be able to say they were the sixth best in the state would be a major accomplishment, but for Smith, taking sixth meant there were five other wrestlers a little better.

"I was kind of happy with how I did, but I think I could've done better," said the 18-year-old senior. "It was kind of a disappointment, but I'm all right with taking sixth."


After taking seventh at last year's state meet, Smith entered this year's state meet facing a mostly new crop of wrestlers.

"It was totally different this year than last year," said Smith. "The competition was really tough. I think the guys this year were bigger, stronger, quicker and just more determined."

Finishing where he did doesn't take away from what Smith accomplished in his high school career. Smith finished this season with a 39-7 overall mark, including his third straight CIF San Diego Section title.

But he still thought he fell short in big meets. At the Five Counties, Masters and state tournaments, Smith's goals were to finish higher than he actually did. He felt he could have won the Masters meet but finished in third.

"I don't know, it just wasn't my day at Masters. I really didn't wrestle the way I should have."

Come April, Smith will have a shot at competing at the high school national wrestling tournament in Maryland on the strength of his sixth-place state performance.

"As far as this year goes I think it was a pretty good year for me. I accomplished almost everything I wanted to. Now I'm just going to keep working out."

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