Baltimore Sun

Jaxon Smith, 92 kilograms, freestyle


The Cartersvil­le, Georgia, resident’s talent has not exactly been a secret. Despite redshirtin­g this past winter, he racked up 23 wins against just six losses in open tournament­s and captured the Edinboro Open title at 197 pounds.

Smith said he found his rhythm after winning the 92-kilogram crown at the United States Marine Corps Open in Las Vegas on April 30, which kickstarte­d a run that included victories at the World Team Trials in Geneva, Ohio, on June 4 and the Under-20 Pan American Championsh­ips in Oaxtepec, Mexico, on July 10.

“After I won the U.S. Open, it definitely put me in a good spot to make the national team,” he said. “After I won the Open, I was pretty confident in myself. I believed this was the year I was going to do it and make the team and go win a world championsh­ip. After that, I felt like the ball was rolling.”

If Smith needed motivation, all he had to do was remember how he finished fourth at 86 kilograms at last summer’s World Team Trials and stayed stateside.

“I learned you get what you put in,” he said. “I knew I needed to work harder. I knew I needed to sacrifice a few more things and work harder. So that’s what I did.”

Since June, Terps coach Alex Clemsen said he and his staff have been working with Smith to be more assertive with his hand fighting and strengthen his leg defense. Clemsen said he has noticed a change in Smith’s body language.

“He’s really learned not to take a backseat to anybody,” he said. “He’s very talented, and I think he’s realized that he is able to work at a consistent effort at an extremely high level, and he’s put a lot of deposits in the bank. His bank account is really big, and because of that, he shouldn’t fear anybody or take a backseat to anybody. He shouldn’t think that anybody out there is better than him. He’s really starting to believe in himself because of his God-given talents and because of his ability to really work.”

Smith said he is anticipati­ng a number of opponents who are just as eager as he is to capture a world championsh­ip. But he said he may have an advantage they don’t have.

“This is what I’ve always wanted to do,” he said. “I’ve wanted to win a world gold medal since I was 5 years old and I’ve always thought I could do it. So I’m in a position to do that now.”

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