LAS VEGAS – No. 6/8 Jacob A. Smith
earned his third consecutive podium finish at 197 pounds for the West Virginia University wrestling team at the 2016 Cliff Keen Las Vegas Invitational at the Las Vegas Convention Center on Saturday afternoon.
The Charleston, West Virginia, native finished fourth for the second straight season. Smith earned an eighth-place finish at the event in 2014.
“This tournament is a great indicator for the season,” WVU coach Sammie Henson said. “Obviously, we need to continue to work. Jake had some good success but isn’t where he wants to be. We believe that with commitment he will reach his goal of becoming an All-American.”
The redshirt junior dropped a 9-7 decision to No. 12 Kollin Moore of Ohio State in the third-place match. Moore got the first takedown of the match, but Smith escaped and countered as the two went into the second period tied, 3-3. Moore took a 4-3 lead on an escape and added a takedown as Smith entered the third period trailing 6-3. Starting on bottom, Smith quickly escaped to come within two, down 6-4, but Moore scored a takedown for an 8-4 lead. Smith escaped and then added a takedown of his own, Moore escaped in the closing seconds to take the win.
Smith met fellow West Virginia native Jared Haught of Virginia Tech in the championship semifinals. Smith struck first with a takedown in the first for a 2-0 lead. Haught escaped as Smith took a 2-1 lead in to the first, starting on top. Smith cut Haught early in the second, knotting the score at 2-2. Haught countered with a takedown midway through the second for a 4-2 advantage. Smith escaped and entered the third trailing 4-3. Starting in the defensive position, he quickly escaped to even the score at 4-4. Neither wrestler scored for the remainder of regulation, sending the bout to sudden victory. Haught scored the takedown as Smith dropped the 6-4 decision to move to the consolation semifinals.
Following his loss to Haught, Smith wrestled No. 15 Ricky Robertson of Wisconsin in the consolation semifinals, winning an 8-1 decision. After a scoreless first, Smith started the second on bottom and took a 1-0 lead on an escape. He scored a takedown soon after and turned Robertson for back points, claiming a 5-0 advantage midway through the second period. Robertson opted for a neutral start in the third, and Smith added another takedown. He tacked on the point for riding time in taking the 8-1 decision to advance to the third-place bout.
In the consolation bracket, Cory Stainbrook
dropped an 11-4 decision to Central Michigan’s Corey Keener. The Mountaineers finished 28th overall in the tournament.
The Mountaineers travel to Pittsburgh on Sunday, Dec. 11, for a 2 p.m. tilt with No. 21 Pitt at Fitzgerald Field House.