Joe Smith wrestling Mark Hall in the finals of the Southern Scuffle (Photo/Sam Janicki, SJanickiPhoto.com)
Nowadays, wrestle-off results at the college level barely get mentioned beyond the wrestling room … or on a team's website. So it's something of a "big deal" when that kind of match generates actual news stories.
Then again, this wrestle-off took place at Oklahoma State, featuring two combatants from the same high school. And it saw a guy who hadn't wrestled this season at 165 pounds defeat a senior All-American at that weight. And, if that weren't enough, the winner happens to be the son of the Cowboys' head coach.
Redshirt junior Joe Smith, son of John Smith, legendary Oklahoma State wrestler and coach, defeated Chandler Rogers, redshirt senior, in a best-of-three series of "ranking matches" inside the wrestling room at the storied Gallagher-Iba Arena Monday night … ensuring that the younger Smith would be representing the Cowboys at 165 pounds in postseason competition this month.
It was a battle of two-time NCAA All-Americans. Smith, who redshirted last season, placed fourth as a sophomore and seventh as a true freshman at the 2016 NCAAs … both at 157 pounds. Rogers finished eighth and fifth the last two seasons at 165 pounds. Both are mat alums of Stillwater High School in the hometown of Oklahoma State who tallied a total of seven Oklahoma state titles -- three for Smith, four for Chandler.
In the first match, Joe Smith scored a first-period takedown which ultimately led to a 3-2 win. An hour later, Smith racked up a series of three takedowns to come out on top 7-4.
Roger Moore, long-time Stillwater-based wrestling writer, was in the Oklahoma State wrestling room for the Smith-Rogers wrestle-off. Here's how he described the situation in a story on TheMat.com: "Finding the right place and time to determine the lineup has not been easy. And having to make a difficult decision … nobody was cheering or celebrating much Monday night … "
As Moore explained, the ranking match was necessary because of "a logjam in the middle weights for the Cowboys."
"This hasn't been easy," John Smith told Moore. "Having guys injured, missing January, brought about a tough situation. It comes down to whoever wants it more."
Joe Smith will wrestle at 165 for Oklahoma State at the 2019 Big 12 Wrestling Championships this weekend in Tulsa. Meanwhile, Chandler Rogers has concluded his Cowboy mat career with a 94-25 record.