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Smithfield grad wrestles for Virginia Tech

By Barbara Boxleitner

Special to Smithfield Times

College wrestling coaches often grapple to fill the lightest and heaviest weight classes.

Smithfield High School graduate Stan Smeltzer has helped alleviate that challenge for the Virginia Tech men’s wrestling coach.

Last year the son of Smithfield residents Stan and Melinda Smeltzer earned a starting spot. He finished with an overall record of 13-15 competing in the 197-pound class, the second heaviest.

“Stan’s come a long way,” Virginia Tech head coach Tony Robie said. “He’s a diligent worker. He’s a smart guy. Wrestling is important to him. Winning’s important to him. I’m pleased Stan has been able to contribute the way he has.”

The redshirt junior was among two Hokies contending at 197 pounds a season ago. But this year’s roster features three at that weight.  “Stan will definitely have some competition,” Robie said. “He’ll have to earn his spot.”

Smeltzer is up to the task. “Every day at practice, it’s a competition,” he said. “It helps everyone get so much better.”

He redshirted during the 2017-18 season, when he compiled a 22-8 record as an unattached wrestler and won the Hokie Open title at 184 pounds.

“Competing that first year definitely helped me realize where everyone was, to be able to see what guys were like at the collegiate level,” he said.

One difference from high school is that college wrestling features “a lot more of an aggressive hand fight,” he said. “It’s a more intense hand fighting experience. You’ve got to really handle that part and not be overwhelmed.”

A knee injury sidelined him during the 2018-19 season, when he was 4-3 competing at 184 pounds. He was not cleared medically for about eight months after his surgery, he said.

Because of the injury, he said he hasn’t gotten as many repetitions at the top and bottom positions. “He’s an explosive athlete,” Robie said. “He’s pretty good at getting through guys, getting them off their feet. The neutral position is his best position.”

While wearing a knee brace to compete a season ago, Smeltzer led the team with nine major decision wins. “That speaks to Stan’s mindset,” Robie said.

By the third period, Smeltzer said, he is confident about his chances to do well. “I try to score as much as I can,” he said. “In the third period, I find guys get pretty tired, and you can execute more. I think my wrestling endurance is one of my strong suits. I think I can hang longer than anyone out there.”

He has worked to become a more well-rounded wrestler by learning to develop additional holds and perfecting moves that already have brought success.

“I’m more on the side of being the aggressor, going out looking for my first opportunity to score,” he said. “I just want to be a dominant wrestler, where I can impose my will on the opponent.”

The wrestlers have been lifting weights and conditioning until official practice begins in October.