COLUMBIA, Mo. — Sage Smart knew what it was like to be in a state championship match.
Last year, the Platte County standout reached the finals in the 195-pound class and lost to Smithville’s Jacob Boyd — who now wrestlers at the University of Oklahoma.
Smart had a much different outcome this time around when he took on Nick Kruse of Harrisonville in the championship match of 220-pound weight class on Saturday, Feb. 17.
Not long after the lights at Mizzou Arena turned back on, Smart had Kruse on his back and pinned in 49 seconds to win the championship.
“Last year, I was really nervous and this year, I was relaxed,” said Smart, who went 50-5 this year, tying Cody Phippen for the team lead in victories. “I just went out there and did what I did.”
Smart and Kruse met in the championship of the Class 3 District 4 Tournament the prior Saturday and Smart won by a pin there as well. That helped him coming into the match against Kruse, who was 47-4 prior to the showdown.
“It helped a lot with the nerves knowing I just wrestled him last week,” Smart said.
Smart becomes the latest champion that will get his name on the banner — making him No. 45 for the Pirates. Only seven schools have more individual champions — Ritenour leads the way with 86, followed by Oak Grove (84), Normandy (75), Oak Park (64), Park Hill (54) and Blue Springs and Maplewood-Richmond Heights (50).
“I still don’t think it has set in yet, it happened so quick,” Smart awaiting the award ceremony. “I just came off the mat, but it feels really great to get on the wall.”
He becomes the second straight Pirate to win the 220 title, following Casey Jumps getting the crown last year as a senior.
“He was my practice partner from Day 1, since my freshman year,” Smart said of Jumps, who is at Air Force. “He has helped me a lot and helped me succeed.”
Smart, ranked No. 1 in the MissouriWrestling.com rankings throughout the season, pinned Clayton’s Jeremiah Austin, ranked No. 6, in the opening round in 1:03.
In the quarterfinals, Smart pinned Marshfield’s Travin Plemmons, before beating Westminster Christian Academy’s Charlie McCracken — a fifth-place finisher last year at 195 — with a pin in the third period of the semifinals.
Of those three wins, the foes had 38, 40 and 47 wins, respectively.