NEWARK, CA – In 2011 Jake Smith won a AAA Virginia state wrestling championship his junior season for Robinson High, he has since transferred to Newark, California, for his senior year, wrestling at 126lbs on a tough Newark Memorial Cougars team. In what may have been a difficult move for some, Jake has transitioned successfully for his final year of high school and is prepping to begin his next move to wrestle for the Appalachian State Mountaineers. Before he embarks on that adventure, he first would like to be a multi-state, state champ by winning a prestigious title in California, a single-class tournament in the largest state in the country. Wrestlers Are Warriors editor Tony Rotundo sat down with Jake to talk about his transition to California and his goals.
Can you tell be briefly how you found wrestling, what got you into the sport?
Smith: I was brought into the sport at an early age by my dad.
Did you have any expectations coming to California with regards to guys you might compete against and style match-ups? I know you wrestled Alex Cisneros at the Super 32 a few years ago.
Smith: My expectation for this year is nothing less than a state title. There are a bunch of good wrestlers that I will have to beat to achieve my goal, but with the way I’ve been training this year there is no way I shouldn’t be able to win a California state title.
What do you see as the biggest differences between East Coast and West Coast styles?
Smith: The east coast is mostly known for a kind of “tough in your face” kind of wrestling. There is a lot more hand fighting from the inside, but you have to know how to wrestle both styles to be successful at a top high school level and college level.
What are your goals for the year?
Smith: Winning a state title.
California has a one class state tournament, is that intriguing for you? Would a state championship in California mean more than a multiple class state title?
Smith: Yes it definitely does. Also with California being such a big state and the vast amount of talented wrestlers winning this year would be a great accomplishment.
I know you have wrestled in some of the toughest tournaments in the country including the Walsh Ironman, Beast of the East and Super 32s. Do you feel those tournaments have prepared you for the grind of the California state meet?
Smith: Any tournament of that level is going to prepare you for the state tournament, I just wish that I could have been able to compete in the Doc B and Ironman this year, but I had to battle through a shoulder injury but I feel like the amount of training I’ve done in the past 2 months have helped prepare me.
You are currently ranked 7th in the state (behind NCS opponent Joey Motia out of De Las Salle – ranked 5th), do you think you’re ranked a little low and could that be an advantage come March 2nd? Are you training to surprise a bunch of people in Bakersfield?
Smith: In the state of California there are so many good wrestlers that could go either way, so I feel like the rankings are either here or there because you are going have to beat the majority of them to get on top of the podium, so I try to go into every match the same and don’t take anyone lightly or give anyone to much respect.
You have committed to Appalachian State, are you looking forward to the transition to college and wrestling at the next level?
Smith: Yes I’m very excited my life time goal has always been to get a great education and to win a NCAA d1 national title and I felt like app state was the best place for me to do that
Do you have anything else to share with us?
Smith: I just want thank my aunt Carolyn Wester for everything she has done for me. She is an amazing women that is very bright and does so many great thing for ppl. I also want to thank my club coach CC Fisher and high school coaches Tim Hess and Victor Pereira.