The two had met before, and every time the outcome had been the same. In three attempts, Cornell senior All-American Clint Wattenberg had yet to defeat Iowa’s Jessman Smith. Monday changed all that as No. 2 Wattenberg pinned No. 1 Smith during the National Wrestling Coaches Association’s All-Star Classic.
“I’ve lost to him three times and I’ve never beat him,” said Wattenberg. “I was just looking to go in, control the match and come out on top.”
Wattenberg did just that.
The match started slow, with neither wrestler scoring in the first period. Smith deferred his pick for the second period to Wattenberg, who chose the bottom position. Wattenberg picked up one point for an escape, but there was more scoring to come.
Late during the fourth minute, Smith moved in for a takedown. Wattenberg was able to defend however, keeping Smith off balance long enough to force a takedown of his own. Wattenberg then held Smith on his back for the match-ending pin.
The All-American was modest about his accomplishments, crediting his victory to preparation.
“I was fortunate to get the fall out of it, but the takedown was just part of my arsenal,” Wattenberg said. “He has one move that he’s caught me and another top wrestler on, so I made sure to not be in that position”
Wattenberg is no stranger to knocking off No. 1 opponents.
The senior defeated Oklahoma’s then-No. 1 Josh Lambrecht earlier in the year with a 6-3 decision during the Lone Star Duals.
Smith and Wattenberg are also not strangers, having known each other since high school, and meeting up at different invitationals over the years.
While the two have talked in the past, things have changed some since Wattenberg moved up to 184 pounds. There was no small talk this time around.
“Here it was pretty much all business,” said Wattenberg. “We know we’ll probably meet up down the line and until it’s all over we probably won’t be too conversational.”
Down the line for Wattenberg are the goals of winning Easterns and an NCAA title. While Wattenberg acknowledges the NCAA challenge ahead of him, he is also remaining confident.
“It’s really anybody’s field,” he said. “But as far as I’m concerned it’s mine.”
Archived article by Matt Janiga