An interview by Brogan Louden
In only a couple of seasons, Jaxon Smith has made a name for himself at the NCAA Division 1 level. However, this is nothing new for the esteemed wrestler who has achieved several accolades at the high school level.
Prior to joining the University of Maryland wrestling program, Smith was
a two-time Georgia state champion, compiling a 100-1 career record. Additionally, Smith played a significant role in helping Woodland High School go undefeated and win back-to-back state championships in 2019 and 2020. These accomplishments allowed Jaxon to become recognized as the #8 ranked 182-pounder in the country and #72 ranked wrestler in the nation by FloWrestling.
During Smith’s first season with the Maryland squad in 2021-2022, he won and placed at numerous open tournaments, including the Clarion Open, UVA Round Robin, Edinboro Open and MatTown Open. Following his first collegiate season, Jaxon would win the 2022 U20 US Open freestyle division at 92 kg. He would continue to turn heads by winning the Pan-American Championships later that summer. In August of 2022, Smith would go on to capture a fifth-place finish
at the U20 World Championships, falling a win shy of making the podium.
An impressive campaign and off-season run would set Smith up to have a deep and dominant second season with the Terrapins. This most recent year, as a redshirt freshman, Smith recorded a 23-8 mark on the season. Throughout the season, Jaxon was able to capture wins of numerous ranked wrestlers, including
a win over returning NCAA finalist, Jacob Warner, at the Big Ten Championships. A third-place finish at the Big Ten Championships gave Smith the highest finish of any Maryland wrestler since 2019.
He was able to keep the momentum going heading into his first NCAA Championship tournament. There, Smith would upset the number six seed to make it out to the quarterfinals. A tough 6-3 defeat to the third seeded Rocky Elam would send Smith to the consolation side of the bracket. In the blood round, he would suffer a heartbreaking 3-2 defeat to Max Dean, the 2022 197-pound NCAA Champion. Nonetheless, Smith was able to make a huge jump in only in second year of collegiate competition, posing himself as a true threat for the
Here’s what Jaxon had to say about becoming a Chain Wrestling athlete and his career thus far.
Q: Why did you decide to team up with Chain Wrestling?
A: I decided to team up with Chain Wrestling for a variety of reasons. Chain wrestling is a growing and thriving wrestling brand that I can see myself being a part of. Also, it gives me an opportunity to grow my NIL, as well as be a part of helping to build the Chain Wrestling brand.
Q: How did you get your start in wrestling and when did you decide to fully commit yourself
to the sport?
A: I started wrestling at the age of 5 at my local high school’s youth program. I had a conversation with my dad when I was around 10 years old about committing to one sport, because at the time I was playing baseball and football as well. I decided to commit myself to just wrestling at 10 years old to insure I could reach my full potential.
Q: After high school, what colleges did you consider and what ultimately determined your decision to go to Maryland?
A: In high school I wasn’t highly recruited, especially the summer leading into my junior year. I went to a public school in Georgia which didn’t give me many opportunities to be noticed. I was injured three times in high school which limited my opportunities. I was looking at a few schools such as, UTC, UVA, VT, NC State, Stanford and a few other schools as well. I decided that Maryland was the school for me because it fit me and my goals the best. The coaches believed in
me through my injures and through tough losses. Maryland is also in the Big Ten which gives me every resource in the world, and it is the pinnacle of wrestling. Also, Maryland gave me the opportunity to do something bigger than just me. Instead of being another name on the wall at bigger established schools, I had the ability to help lead a team to the top of NCAA wrestling and making a name for UMD.
Q: What were some of the biggest changes you had to make transitioning into college wrestling?
A: Going from high school to D1 wrestling in the Big Ten is a huge jump for anyone. A huge adjustment I had to make in college was top and bottom wrestling, especially getting out from bottom. Getting stuck in bottom and not being able to ride guys on top was a huge issue I faced initially in college. Focusing on getting out from bottom was a huge factor my first year.
Q: In your wrestling career, what matches stand out to you the most? Are there any rematches you are looking forward to in the future?
A: Losing in the blood round my freshman year of the NCAA tournament by a point to Max Dean is a match that stands out most to me. Being so close to being an All-American stsatus is definitely something that I think about frequently since the match. I am looking forward to a rematch with Elam, I think next time we wrestle it’ll be exciting and fun for fans to watch.
Q: What is the atmosphere and culture like in the Maryland wrestling room?
A: Like most people say when talking about the atmosphere and culture at their school, ours is “different” compared to anyone else. What makes us unique is our team is led by a group of hungry young guys. We are all hungry to make a name for ourselves as well as our program. We have a chip on our shoulder to prove others wrong and to establish ourselves.
Q: Who are some of the most influential people that you would give credit to for helping you reach the level you are at?
A: The most influential person in my life is my dad. Since I was a kid, he has always given me anything I needed and or wanted to be successful. If I needed new shoes or wanted to go to a camp, he wouldn’t think twice about paying for it. I don’t think I’d be where I am today without him.
Q: What has wrestling at the Division 1 level taught you most about yourself so far?
A: Wrestling at the D1 level has taught me a lot about myself. The biggest thing it has taught me so far is that I am going to get what I put into it. At this level, everyone is good, and everyone is working hard. You have to be purposeful when training and you have to do more than you think you can do. Having the mindset that you are the best, but training like you are second best.
Q: Coming off of a successful season, what are some goals of yours that you have moving forward?
A: My goal going into next season is to be an NCAA champion. I believe I can compete with anyone on the D1 level. If I’m healthy, I don’t think winning an NCAA title is far-fetched. Another goal I have is to lead our team to a top 20 NCAA finish.
Q: Have you been able to man a leadership role on your team? What is the biggest piece of advice that you give to the younger guys in the room?
A: I am one of the main leaders and captains at UMD. One thing I preach to the younger guys in our room is to be purposeful when we are training and lifting. Being attentive when drilling and to push yourself when we are lifting and doing conditioning is fundamental.
Q: After your collegiate career comes to an end, do you hope to continue competing at the senior level?
A: I plan to fully transition into freestyle after my college career. I have always loved freestyle more than any other style and I believe that’s my best style. I think I’ll be a contender at the senior level in the upcoming years.
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About the author: Brogan Louden
Brogan Louden, a 2022 graduate of Shippensburg University, is from the great state of Pennsylvania. Growing up his entire life surrounded by some of the best wrestling in the nation, he quickly discovered his strong passion and love for the sport. Now, he is looking to pursue a career in wrestling media to help bring more awareness and excitement to the sport.