HUNTINGTON - Three more victories.
That is all George Washington senior Jake Smith needs to further cement himself into Patriots wrestling history following his convincing first-round victory at the 66th annual State Tournament on Thursday night at the Big Sandy Superstore Arena.
Smith, who pinned Preston senior Brandon Poling 1:36 into the match, expects the competition to improve as he continues his quest today. Smith meets Musselman junior Danny Arndt in the second round of the 160-pound bracket in Class AAA. Arndt earned a 4-3 decision over Cabell Midland junior Justin Leggett.
Smith looks to join Dave Bock as George Washington's only two-time state champions. Bock captured his titles at 145 pounds in 1966 and 138 pounds in 1965, when the event was just one division.
"The competition isn't as strong the first day, but it improves as the tournament progresses," Smith said. "But that should pick up (today), especially (tonight)."
A state champion at 145 pounds last season, Smith enters the quarterfinals with a 38-0 record and a career record of 169-21. He was a runner-up at 135 pounds in 2011 and a third-place finisher at 112 pounds in 2010.
"He has some good competition coming up," George Washington Coach Richard Harper said. "He's going to have to come out and give it all he's got and I think he'll be fine. He's not going to take (the championship) sitting down."
If Smith were to win a second crown, he would become just the 12th wrestler from the Kanawha Valley to have won at least two titles. But the Patriots standout is not sure if that is enough to cement himself as one of the area's best.
"It would be a huge accomplishment," said Smith, who will continue his wrestling career at Division I Cleveland State. "That's been the goal since the start of the season, actually since the end of last year to get another (title). Hopefully I can achieve that.
"Hopefully I'm good enough to leave a legacy. I don't know if I'm that good."