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Seven Good Minutes with Christian Smith
Today, the "Seven Good Minutes" segment sits down with Christian Smith, who will be making his fourth-career trip to the national event after retaining his 133-pound title at this year's NCAA East Regional Qualifier.
The series, which began on Sunday with an in-depth look into Shaun Smith, Liberty's national qualifier at 157 pounds, will conclude tomorrow when we sit down with Tim Harner, the Flames four-time national qualifier at 141 pounds.
Seven Good Minutes Segments
Shaun Smith – March 15
Chris Daggett – March 16
Christian Smith – March 17
Tim Harner – March 18
This year's quartet gives Liberty 14 national qualifiers since the program was reinstated after a 12-year hiatus for the 2006-07 season. The Flames posted a 12-9-1 dual meet record this past season, culminating with their third-straight NCAA East Regional team title.
Audio Interview with Christian Smith
Christian Smith is in the midst of his first "full" season in a Liberty singlet, and he is ready to cap off his collegiate days as a Flame with his fourth career trip to the national wrestling title event.
Smith began his collegiate time on the wrestling mat at Duke, capturing an ACC championship at 125 pounds during the 2003-04 season to earn a berth into the 2004 national championship.
After suffering an injury midseason with the Blue Devils, Smith transferred to Virginia Tech. Another preseason injury before the 2005-06 year began kept the Suffolk, Va., native from taking to the mats for the Hokies.
During Smith's time in Blacksburg, Va., he learned that Liberty had reinstated its wrestling program, one he had strong family ties to. Smith's father, Daniel Wayne Smith, was a two-time NCCAA national champion for Liberty in 1976 and 1977, helping establish a dominant wrestling program on Liberty Mountain during the program's first run.
Looking to honor his roots, Smith once again transferred and had to sit out the first part of Liberty's inaugural return to competition during the 2006-07 campaign due to the NCAA transfer rule.
However, he was able to quickly shake off two years of rust and earn a return trip to the national championship with a victory at 125 pounds at the 2007 NCAA East Regional.
Moving up a weight class the following year, Smith looked poised to make another run in his new found division. But once again, the grapplers' path ran into an obstacle – this time it came from an off-the-mat situation.
Paperwork at one of his former institutions was not properly filed, and when Liberty began to seek a sixth year of competition for the lightweight, the NCAA found the error and declared him ineligible for the infraction. He was 16-14 at the time of the ruling and was forced to sit out the Flames following 14 dual events and a tournament.
Along with having to forfeit his first 30 matches of the season, the 133-pounder was forced to sit on the sidelines for an equal number of events as he wrestled in as an ineligible wrestler.
Finally returning to competition two duals before Liberty hosted the 2008 NCAA East Regional, Smith entered the event with an "official" record of 0-30. However, the resilient student-athlete, who has already completed his undergraduate degree and is pursuing a MBA, rebounded to capture his second career NCAA East Regional title and once again return to the national scene.
A full season for some might be underappreciated by most seniors, but not Smith as he has posted his third collegiate 20-win season to help guide Liberty to a third-straight NCAA East Regional team title.
Spotlighting Smith's 2008-09 run is a 4-1 mark at the prestigious Hoosier Duals and a seventh-place finish at this year's Southern Scuffle.
The 133-pounder picked up a 6-4 decision over N.C. State's Darrius Little on Jan. 17 and has won his following 10 matchups, giving him a 24-14 overall mark coming into this year's national championship.
Smith made quick work of his two foes at this year's NCAA East Regional event, pinning Wagner's Tyler Harmer in 20 seconds and needing 88 seconds to stick Millersville's Sean Reed to the mats during the title bout to punch his ticket to his fourth NCAA national wrestling championship.
Smith's Career Record at Liberty
2007-08: 2-34 (Note: Smith was declared ineligible for his first 30 matches of the year by the NCAA, resulting in forfeited matches during the first half of the season [he was 16-14 prior to the NCAA ruling]. Missed the following 14 dual matches and a tournament, before he was reinstated on Feb. 13, 2008)
Total: 52-61 (collegiate record, including his two seasons at Duke [42-17/125 pounds): 94-78)
Smith's Career at the NCAA National Championship
2004: 0-2 (125 pounds)
L – Kyle Ott (Illinois) – Major dec., 7-20
L – Christian Stayler (Arizona State) – Dec., 7-10
2007: 0-2 (125 pounds)
L – Troy Nickerson (Cornell) – Fall, 2:39
L – Eric Stevenson (Oregon State) – Major dec., 1-9
2008: 0-2 (133 pounds)
L – Patrick Castillo (Northern Illinois) – Major dec., 4-13
L – Terreyl Williams (Appalachian State) – Dec., 2-4
Career record at the NCAA National Championship: 0-6
Getting to Know Christian Smith
5-7, 133 pounds
What is your favorite Bible verse and why?
2 Corinthians 5:17, because only God can transform the heart of man into a new creation.
I know it's not good for me, but I love to eat …
Mint chocolate chip ice cream
What was the best movie you watched over the last year?
The Dark Knight, because it was a great movie that showed good triumphing over evil.
I came to Liberty because …
I wanted to build my education on the foundations of God's Word and use my talents to represent and glorify Christ.
Share something about one of your teammates that someone outside the program would never know without you telling them.
Ryan (McDonnell) has a girlfriend and he's in love.
Who is your favorite Bible character and why?
Paul, because God transformed him into a man of God and was one of the most influential Christians throughout history.
My earliest memory while competing in my sport is …
Doing hundreds of "spin-drills" at pee-wee club practice.
The best part of being a Liberty student-athlete is …
Having the support of your coaches, teammates, administration, and student body to strive for excellence in the name of glorifying Jesus Christ.
My dream job would be …
Build a non-profit corporation
What is the best book you have ever read (other than the Bible)?
"The Barbarian Way" by Erwin Raphael
If you could have one super power, what would it be and why?
I would want to be able to read people's minds, so I could know what to say to convince them of the truth.
If I were named "Coach for a Day", I would make my coaches (and why) …
Have two-a-days and make them cut weight.
My favorite thing about being a part of the Liberty wrestling program is (and why) …
What we stand for.
If you could have dinner with three people throughout history, who would they be and why?
Jesus Christ, Paul (the Apostle), Ronald Reagan
My personal goals this season are …
To be used by God as He wills and give Him all the glory.
What cartoon character are you most like (and why)?
Fievel, because that's what my friends say.
If someone would look at the songs on my iPod, I would be embarrassed for them to see I have this song is …
The Hamster Dance Song
The first thing people notice about me when they meet me is …
My curly hair
When you were a little child, what did you want to be "when you grew up" and are you pursuing it still as a career/profession after graduation?
No, because I wanted to be a firefighter.