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This week's Peak Performer: Alex Smith, Pine Creek
Jakub Myska and Garrett Van Wyhe, Fountain Valley
Each player scored two goals in a 5-1 win over Chatfield in the first round of the state tournament and the pair combined for two more in the Danes’ season-ending 7-3 loss to Regis.
Quincy Harding, Harrison
The Panthers may have lost both games last week, but it wasn’t for lack of trying from Harding, who scored 41 points in an 81-76 overtime loss against Coronado. Two nights later he added 17 in a 56-43 loss to Widefield.
Shanah Leaf, Palmer
The senior recorded 15 points and 12 rebounds in a win over Pine Creek and led the Terrors with 18 points and eight rebounds against Fountain-Fort Carson to help Palmer finish the 5A Metro schedule undefeated.
Alex Smith knew who would be standing in the way of his dream as he trained for the state 5A wrestling tournament last week.
He knew that Randy Boerner from Mountain Range would most likely be waiting for him in the state title match.
“My work ethic was strong all year, but I was working on the things I knew I’d need to beat him,” the senior 152-pounder from Pine Creek said. “I went into state as the six seed and that put a bit of a chip on my shoulder.”
Smith had been beaten badly by Boerner earlier in the season, and then lost to him in a close match at regionals which included some controversial rulings by the referee.
After two rounds of battling for the state title, the two found themselves tied at one and facing a sudden-death, 1-minute round. It was simple; first man to score a point takes home the trophy.
“I told myself that I can’t and won’t lose this match; I had tunnel vision and blocked everything else out,” said Smith, who reversed a take-down attempt by using a basic move to win. “It’s a move we’ve literally worked on since the first day of practice. It’s a little ironic to think that for four years I’ve learned so many moves and techniques, and won it with one of the basics.”
The 3-1 victory capped off a four-year career that saw Smith steadily improve under the watchful eye of Pine Creek coach Billy Gabel.
From not placing as a freshman to being sixth and fourth as a sophomore and junior, Smith climbed the ladder to the ultimate goal as a senior.
“The one word for him is persistence; he had a goal to be a state champion by the time he left here and he worked hard and was able to do it and I was incredibly proud of him,” Gabel said. “He’s good enough to wrestle at the Division I level.”
Before Smith tries his hand at the next level, he plans to take a year off and train full time at the Olympic Training Center.
“I’ve been down there to practice with world and Olympic teams before and I’ll have a non-stop year of wrestling before I head to college,” Smith said. “I’m going to see where the offers come from, but going D-I is the ultimate goal.”
The key to Smith’s success in his senior year was his conditioning and him being comfortable wrestling at 152, Gabel said. Smith had competed at lighter weights because he was in-between classes.
“Alex was in the best shape of anybody in his weight class in the state,” Gabel said. “He had to wrestle at higher classes, but this year he actually could eat normally and watch his weight. Those two things really helped him reach his potential.”