#GrecoMonday: Pat Smith moves up a weight class and claims World Team spot at Final X: Rutgers

By Mike Willis, USA Wrestling | June 10, 2019, 2:58 p.m. (ET)

Pat Smith defeated Kamal Bey two-matches-to-one to earn the World Team spot. Photo by Tony Rotundo, Wrestlers are Warriors.

Pat Smith faced a dilemma coming into the third year of the Olympic cycle. He was wrestling at 72 kg, a weight class not featured in the Olympics. In order to be prepared to make a run at the Olympic Games, the 2017 World Team member needed to give his body ample time to adjust to a new weight class. That meant making the change this year and deciding whether he wanted to bump up five kilograms to 77 kg, or drop five kilograms to 67 kg.

Ultimately Pat decided to move up, a decision that seems to have paid off, as he just earned the 77 kg Greco-Roman World Team spot at Final X: Rutgers, this past Saturday.

“I spent a lot of time last summer stressing over that (the weight change). I talked to nutritionists. I talked to a lot of mentors and tried to figure out what would be the best thing. At the end of the day it came down to getting better at wrestling. I knew that if I was going down, I wouldn’t be able to get as good at wrestling as I could if I went up. That’s what the focus was. I’ve wrestled more matches this year than I ever have, and I’ve probably trained a lot more volume. That’s attributed to not cutting as much weight and feeling good. I was able to recover quicker,” said Smith.

At Final X, Smith had to defeat the reigning 77 kg World Team member, Kamal Bey. An electrifying talent, Bey is a 2017 Junior World Champion and well known for his massive throws.

Smith and Bey met in the finals of the 2019 U.S. Open, with Bey coming away with a 7-5 decision. That victory earned Bey a bye to Final X, while Smith was forced to wrestle through the World Team Trials Challenge Tournament, in Raleigh, N.C.

Smith emerged from the tournament victorious, defeating 2017 77 kg World Team member, Penn State’s Mason Manville, two-matches-to-none in the finals, winning 3-0, and 3-2. This solidified Smith’s spot in Final X, and set up a rematch with Bey for the World Team spot.

The first match at Rutgers was all Bey. On the strength of a monster five-point throw, Bey took a 7-2 lead into the break. In the second period, Bey scored a takedown, a step-out and earned a point off a failed Smith challenge to win, 11-2.

Match two was a low scoring affair. Smith scored a point on a passivity call against Bey but was reversed in par terre to even the score, 1-1. Early in the second period, Smith scored a step-out point to make the match, 2-1. Smith’s strong defense prevented Bey from scoring another point, and match two would end 2-1.

Bey took a 3-0 lead off a step-out and a headlock to start match three. Smith earned two points by reversing a Bey throw attempt to cut the lead to a point. With two minutes remaining in the match, Smith drove Bey out of his bounds and to his back, for four points, to make the score, 6-3. Despite several offensive flurries, Bey could not crack Smith’s defense, and Smith claimed the World Team spot with a 6-3 win.

Smith credited his physicality being a key factor in taking matches two and three.

“We had a good game plan. I came out a lot more physical in the second match; which I think is really good for me. That’s my wheelhouse. I’m a brawler, and I model after Brandon Paulson, Dennis Hall and Mike Houck’s style. That’s where I want to be, and I started executing that game plan a little better in the second match. I started to feel the positions where I could be good and the positions where I definitely did not want to be. I was able to make that adjustment, and it worked out for me today,” Smith said

Smith will spend the next several months preparing for the World Champions, which are being held in Nur-Sultan, Kazakhstan, this September.