IOWA CITY, Iowa – If there was any question whether Robby Smith was up to the task of defending his standing at 130 kg, it was answered in emphatic fashion on Sunday night. Smith took two straight matches from Adam Coon (Cliff Keen WC) to earn his place on the 2016 US Olympic Wrestling Team in front of a packed Carver-Hawkeye Arena.
The younger Coon has blossomed over the past year to become a formidable threat to just about everyone at heavyweight. Entering this weekend, there was even some consideration that he may pose a legitimate challenge for the more-experienced Smith. Those preconceptions went out the window shortly after the first match of the best-of-three got started.
Smith kept busy from the beginning, driving up and forward on the much-taller Coon. Both had to keep their feet moving; the first one to lose their footing would have given up a disadvantage inside. Smith worked into Coon’s grasp and decided it was he who should get things moving and did so by charging forward to the edge to gain a push-out point. A two-point dump off later on provided the cushion he’d need to take match one 3-0.
Match two would not be as close. Robby Smith opened up right away, going after his younger opponent with a sense of urgency usually reserved for wrestlers down a match, not up by one. Big points came on an arm spin. More offense netted a couple of more. Heading midway through the second period, Smith was out to a stout 7-0 lead. Coon saw a flicker of life when he picked up his own pair of points, but it wouldn’t matter. Time expired shortly thereafter, leaving Robby Smith alone at the top of the ladder at 130 kg and a first-time Olympian.
Smith making his first Olympic squad is big news and a feather in his cap. For the first time in perhaps two quadrennials, the heavyweight class for the US Greco Roman program has begun to sprout considerable depth with up-and-comers like Toby Erickson (NYAC), Parker Betts (Minnesota Storm), and Coon. Robby Smith leads the way, however, and as a world-ranked competitor has a terrific chance of making something happen in Rio.