Few in Maryland knew who Ethan Smith was when he came from Pennsylvania to wrestle his junior season at Aberdeen last year, but it didn't take long for everyone to take notice.
And soon, the nation could be taking notice when Smith heads to wrestle for Big Ten champions and NCAA tournament runner-up Ohio State.
Smith wrapped up his senior season at Sparrows Point with a 41-0 record and the 182-pound 2A-1A state title to cap his two-year career in the state with a perfect 74-0 mark. He won a championship in both classifications, and in eight state tournament matches he won by fall in five — including four first-period pins — and three by technical fall. Through it all, Smith enjoyed turning heads.
"It was a pretty cool feeling because there are a lot of studs in Pennsylvania and the limelight is pretty scattered," he said. "So to have it focused on me, it gave me a little more motivation because of the expectation people had when people watched me wrestle."
Smith broke through on the national stage last spring with a third-place finish at FloNationals, and in October he placed third at the Super 32 Challenge in a bracket of 128 wrestlers. This season, he picked up a 15-5 major decision victory over state champion Robert Doetsch of Dundalk and a 6-1 decision over St. Paul's Jack Parr, an All-Metro selection. He led the Pointers to their first-ever appearance in the 2A-1A state dual final and a 35-5 overall record.
After originally committing to wrestle at Iowa State, Smith — ranked No. 7 in the country by FloWrestling — was granted his release and committed to Ohio State on March 3, where he will join local NCAA champions Kyle Snyder (Woodbine) and McDonogh graduate Myles Martin.
"I can only get better at Ohio State," Smith said. "It's a Big Ten school, so obviously I'm going to have to earn my spot, but that makes me just that much more excited. My goals are to be an All-American and be an NCAA champion."