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METTLE OF HONOR

Two-time state placer made history for Ripon

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METTLE OF HONOR

Ripon High’s Trevor Smith is the Manteca Bulletin 2013 Boys Wrestling All-Area MVP.

CHRIS LEONARD/leonardphoto.com/


POSTED March 30, 2013 2:25 a.m.

RIPON – Trevor Smith’s place in local legend is secure. If the red padded walls in the Ripon High wrestling room could talk, they’d tell you as much.

Smith is the most decorated wrestler in Ripon High history, and one of only two to place twice at the CIF State Wrestling Championships.

His achievements will ring through that room for years, but any debate will be settled by two medals: a sixth- and third-place showing at the last two state meets, respectively.

Enough said.

“I think it’s pretty clear that he’s had the best career of any wrestler at Ripon High,” coach Glen White said. “He’s done a lot. His whole life revolves around wrestling. He’s constantly wrestling, even though he also plays water polo and swims. He’s worked hard to get to this point.”

So, Trevor, why such the long face?

A month removed from wrestling’s finish at Bakersfield’s Rabobank Arena, the 195-pound He-Man remains fixated on his only misstep at state.

Elk Grove’s Scott Votino was awarded a controversial takedown that proved to be the margin of victory in a 2-1 victory over Smith in the semifinal round.

Smith had beaten Votino a few weeks earlier at the Sac-Joaquin Section Masters Tournament, adding to the sting of the defeat.

He was mad.

Exhausted.

Frustrated.

And confused.

In other words, Smith was a perfect candidate for The Semi Slide ... again.

“I’m not really content with the way things played out,” said Smith, The Bulletin’s two-time Boys Wrestler of the Year and the area’s only state qualifier.

“I’m happy, but being content is something you can never be in wrestling or any sport for that matter.  You have to keep your competitive edge. Once you’re content and OK with where you’re at, you stop and everyone catches up to you.”

There were few on Smith’s level this season.

He went 42-4, and collected a take-home prize at every stop during the postseason.

Smith was the Trans Valley League champion, Sac-Joaquin Section Division V champion, runner-up at Masters and third in Bakersfield.

“What drives me is the competition – looking for that one match where you’re going to be pushed to your limits and you don’t know if you’ll come out on top or not,” Smith said. “Living in that moment is bliss.”

For all his accolades and accomplishments, White was more impressed with Smith’s response following a devastating loss to Votino at state.

His star pupil has just been swept up in the wash of The Semi Slide, a phenomena that has derailed the medal hopes for wrestlers for years.

The Semi Slide occurs when a wrestler, once pointed at a tournament championship, is bumped down to a sixth-place medal because they couldn’t recover from a semifinal loss. Their tournament ends with three straight losses.

That was Smith’s 2012 state experience in a nutshell. He found himself in a similar situation earlier this month when a loss to a wrestler he had beaten at Masters sent him into the consolation bracket.

Smith had a choice to make: Pout about it or pour it on. He chose the latter, displaying a maturity and extra gear that would define his wrestling in 2013.

“To do that his junior year was a good learning experience,” White said. “Although he wanted to be in the finals, mentally, he was prepared if something happened.

“It wasn’t easy. He was pretty down after that loss, but he came back and beat two really good kids.”

Exhausted, Smith recalled the sting of his Semi Slide, turning that pain and frustration into fuel.

He beat James Logan’s Clayton Hartwell 5-2 and then shutout Murrieta Valley’s Nick Johnson 2-0 in the third-place match.

“It was pretty much remembering what happened last year at state and making sure it didn’t happen again,” Smith said. “After that happened once, you don’t want it to happen again.

“For me, it was redemption: ‘OK, I’m not letting this happen twice in a lifetime.’ ”

Enough said.

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