It was 707 days since Joe Smith last wrestled in Gallagher-Iba Arena before Sunday.
After a wait as long as that, Smith, a redshirt junior on the Oklahoma State wrestling team, made the most of his return to the orange mat. He recorded his first pin at home in his career and brought the Cowboy faithful to their feet on Sunday.
With all of the trials and tribulations that Smith has endured during his career at OSU, he has become an inspiration and a motivator to fellow teammates such as redshirt senior Jacobe Smith (no relation).
“Every time Joe (Smith) wrestles he gets me ready for my matches,” Smith said. “He’s my favorite wrestler. I go out there trying to top his performance and get the crowd to scream louder for me than they did for him.”
It took just two minutes and 41 seconds for No. 5 Smith to pin Marcus Coleman in his match at 174 pounds and secure the Cowboys' lone pin in their 22-15 victory against No. 15 Iowa State.
John Smith, Oklahoma State’s head coach and Joe Smith’s father, shared the fans' excitement that his son’s match created.
“I was excited,” Smith said. “That’s the way to do it. We all love pins. He’s been working hard and it was a good time to get the crowd going.”
Lewallen could be done for season
With the dual all but finished and OSU up 22-9, Boo Lewallen made his first appearance since injuring his shoulder against South Dakota State on Nov. 17.
Heading into the third period Lewallen led No. 12 Jarrett Degen 8-4 and it looked as if both of OSU's injury-stricken returnees would be victorious, but in the third period he was taken down and landed on his previously injured shoulder that had kept him out for the previous two months.
The match ended because of the injury and Iowa State was awarded six team points to bring the dual to a close.
Lewallen’s teammate and roommate Nick Piccininni said that this injury affected the entire team.
“Boo’s one of my best friends,” Piccininni said. “The countless hours he puts in, not just in the wrestling room, but after hours. That’s someone that works hard and puts in a lot of extra work. That hurt me too.”
Lewallen has suffered multiple injuries during his four years at Oklahoma State and John Smith said this could mark the end of the junior's season.
“That’s probably going to set him back too much,” Smith said. “If you look at his career he’s had a lot of battles with these injuries. He’s a tough kid it kills me, but he’ll be back.”
While Lewallen will most likely not wrestle again this season, Piccininni said that he will still make an impact on the team.
“He’s a big motivator,” Piccininni said. “He brings that energy. Some people might not think it helps, but it does.”