Smith and Hall win JJ Classic Titles
By Steve Widzinski
MI Grappler High School Analyst
Over the past month no Michigan wrestler has been
more impressive than Mason Smith, a current sophomore
at Clio. While he turned in a strong 4th place finish at
the Division 2 state meet last March, Smith has elevated
his status to a new level after a trio of outstanding
performances at major national tournaments this month.
Smith’s spectacular October started at the Grappler
Fall Classic, where he knocked off Jose Rodriguez of
Ohio, currently ranked #13 nationally at 106lbs by
Flowrestling, along the way to a runner-up finish. The
subsequent weekend Smith followed up with another
strong outing, scoring wins over well-credentialed
opponents and advancing to the second day of the
highly prestigious Super 32 Challenge.
However, as impressive as Smith’s two prior
performances were, he exceeded them considerably
this weekend by claiming the 106lbs title at the Intermat
JJ Classic. Despite entering the tourney as the fifth
overall seed Smith was dominant on his path to the
finals, defeating USAW Junior National Freestyle
champion Tanner Rowheder of Iowa by way of a major
decision in the quarterfinals, and posting a 7-0 decision
over 2011 USAW Cadet Triple Crown winner Gannon
Volk of Minnesota in the semifinals.
In his final match of the day Smith notched what is
likely the biggest win of his career, recording a fall
against Minnesota’s Mitchell McKee who is currently
ranked #6 in the country at 106lbs by Flowrestling.
After stringing together three performances of this
caliber, Smith has officially established himself as
one of the country’s best at 106lbs
Also earning a title out Michigan was St. Johns junior
Zac Hall, capping off what has been the best offseason
of his high school career. In one of the tournament’s
most anticipated finals Hall took on Iowa’s Freddy
Stroker, a state runner-up who is currently ranked #15
nationally at 126lbs by Flowrestling. Hall shined,
posting a 10-2 major decision to claim a JJ Classic title
just two weeks after earning most outstanding wrestler
honors at the Grappler Fall Classic.
Other Michiganders placing at this year’s JJ Classic
were Hartland’s Austin Eicher, as well as a pair of St.
John’s seniors; Payne Hayden and Brant Schafer. It
was a very strong performance for Eicher, who took
home a 3rd place finish with his only loss coming at
the hands of nationally ranked Freddy Stroker. Hayden dropped a tough match against Minnesota state champion Nathan Rose in the semifinals, who would later be named the tournament’s most outstanding wrestler. In his final two matches Hayden injury defaulted, and consequently finished the day in 6th place. Likewise, Schafer, who dropped a close bout against Minnesota’s Logan Peterson in the semifnals, opted to default his final two matches and finished 6th.
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