Boise State's Kirk Smith Striving For Success

by Ryan Reiswig

In wrestling, the Pac-10 is made up of regulars like Arizona State, Oregon State and Stanford, but also includes affiliate members Boise State, Cal Poly, Cal State Bakersfield and Cal State Fullerton.

It's the difference between the run-of-the-mill athletes from the exceptional ones, first-string athletes from the All-Americans, and the athletes who talk the talk from the ones who walk the walk.

Hard work.

For Boise State's wrestling sensation Kirk Smith, it's the reason why he's on the verge of not only becoming a three-time All-American, but also a national champion.

"I believe there are other wrestlers out there that probably have more talent than him, but he just makes up for it because he works extremely hard," says Broncos head coach Greg Randall. "He's an extremely strong kid, not just physically but mentally."

It's no surprise Smith knows what it takes to sit atop the ranks in collegiate wrestling; his father Rick wrestled collegiately and both his brothers wrestled for the Broncos. In fact, it was his brothers who kick-started Smith's wrestling career.

"I'm the youngest, so I was always getting picked on and wrestling just kind of kept me from getting beat on [by my brothers] I guess," laughs Smith. "It would lessen the blows that I'd get from my brothers by being able to learn how to do things. Wrestling kind of helped me to survive in my house."

The Broncos have to be grateful for his domestic survival as Smith has led them to a No. 10 ranking in the national polls. One aspect of Smith's game that has enabled him to progress as a wrestler is not being complacent with his performances; he's always looking to improve his craft.

"For me, I'm always trying to find something to work on, something I can do better," says Smith. "Picking apart film, seeing what you can do better, what you're doing bad. I have that constant need to strive for success. That's what keeps me motivated."

Motivation is key for any wrestler's success because of how much hard work and discipline it takes to be the best. From eating right to maintaining weight, working out, practicing and school work, there are many moving parts in a wrestler's life.

"He's just a very consistent kid," explains Randall, in his ninth year as the Broncos's head coach. "He never gets out of shape, he's in the weight room year round. He lives his life basically around wrestling. That's why he's so good; his diet doesn't change, his weightlifting doesn't change, and his running doesn't change."

Smith also sacrifices most of his social life, a part of life most college students would never dream of giving up. This may come from his parents reinforcing the importance of school from his days at Centennial High School in Boise where he graduated with a 3.8 GPA.

"My parents did a good job of teaching me about my responsibilities and stuff like that," says Smith, a senior. "Right now at this point in my life, I have wrestling and school. My social life, I have one but it's not always as great as I want it to be. There's only two out of those three, having a social life, wrestling, and school that you can really focus on. I've always tried to focus on my wrestling and my school [work]."

With Smith's work ethic and discipline, coach Randall couldn't ask for a better leader of his team.

"I try and lead by example. If a guy needs it I'll tell him, 'You're messing up' or 'You need to do this or that'", says Smith of his leadership. "We have days in the room where we wrestle the younger guys. For me when I was younger, we had the days where we wrestled the older guys too, it's just a good thing to do."

Hard work and discipline have driven Smith to this point of his career, however there's one other aspect to Smith's mentality that has enabled him to experience the success he's had so far, the same mentality that many of the greatest athletes have had in their respective sports throughout the years: the fear of losing.

"I don't like losing," says Smith. "In fact, that's one of the things I don't tolerate very well. I think that's one of the things that drives me to succeed, work so hard and have such good work ethic. All those things combined is what makes me the person I am and makes me the wrestler that I am."

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