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Big dreams for the wrestling mats

University of Oklahoma red-shirt freshman Ryan Smith has set a goal to win a national title in wrestling next year in his first year of collegiate competition

by: LON AUSTIN/CENTRAL OREGONIAN - Red-shirt freshman Ryan Smith won the 165-pound class in teh open division of the Oregon Wrestling Classic.  Smith defeated Devan Lewis of Northern Colorado 20-4 in the match pictured above.  Smith expects to contribute at Oklahoma next year and has set a goal to win the national title.

While at Crook County High School, Ryan Smith was a four year varsity letterman, and a three time state champion in wrestling. He also was a freestyle national qualifier and placed third at the Greco-Roman nationals.
   Last year Smith signed a letter of intent to wrestle at national power Oklahoma, where he is now a red-shirt freshman.
   Smith recently returned to central Oregon where he wrestled in the open division of the Oregon Wrestling Classic, finishing first in the 165-pound class, while clearly being the class of the field.
   "I love it at Oklahoma," said Smith. "It's a great program to be a part of. They take care of their athletes."
   Red-shirting has allowed Smith to adjust to Division I athletics gradually and has helped to make sure that he is successful in school. He carried a 3.00 GPA for his first semester with a major in business.
   "It is pretty packed at matches," noted Smith. "There is a good following with any college sport there. What else are you going to do in Oklahoma?"
   The Sooners are currently ranked 17th in the nation and Smith expects to step in immediately next year and contribute to the program.
   "It's a whole different world," Smith said. "I mean I can't even explain how big the difference is. They are faster and stronger. But I'm red-shirting this year to mature and stuff."
   And Smith is having success.
   "I'm beating our varsity kid in practice," noted Smith. "And he is ranked 12th in the nation. My goal for next year is the national title. But we'll see. You know it's a lot of work, but I think I can do it. I just want to make everyone here proud. I want to go far beyond their expectations."