ROCK SPRINGS– Twelve-year-old Maggie Smith has been wrestling since she was four years old, and now she has been invited to go to an international tournament in Japan to wrestle as part of an exclusive team.
Maggie is one of seventeen wrestlers on the US team who have been invited to travel to Japan for an All-Female Japan Open.
The team, which is called American Kintaro Cultural Exchange, is the only United States team to compete at the tournament, and it is made up of girls from Wyoming, Montana, and California.
While at the international tournament, Maggie will have the opportunity to train with the 2020 Olympic committee, as well as compete against some of the top wrestles around the world. The tournament will be from March 21 through March 29.
Maggie Aspires to Wrestle at the Olympics
The invitation to compete at the tournament, which she received on December 22, 2017, is another step toward Maggie’s dream of becoming an Olympic wrestler.
Wrestling is a family sport for the Smiths, so Maggie has grown up with aspirations of taking wrestling as professionally as she can.
“It’s (the Olympics) been like a mindset from last year, especially since I went to more, big national tournaments last year,” Maggie said of her Olympic goals.
Wrestling Presents a Challenge
Maggie loves wrestling because she’s been around it her entire life and it presents a challenge every time she steps onto the mat. Maggie’s dad, Birch Smith, said Maggie has been wrestling for almost her entire life.
“She started before she was old enough to wrestle,” Birch said. “She started when she was three and then she did peewee when she was four.”
“I’ve always done it, and I have to work for it. It’s not something easy,” Maggie said of why she enjoys wrestling.
A lot of Maggie’s time goes into training for wrestling. She has her own wrestling mat at home, so she can practice easily, and she just got a throwing dummy for Christmas. She trains at least three times a week, and also participates in school sports.
Keeping Busy with Sports and Activities
In addition to wrestling, Maggie also swims for the Rock Springs Tiger Sharks swim club, and she plays football, in which she started on both offense and defense for the seventh grade Rock Springs Junior High team.
She is also a member of the RSJH choir, as well as the SWBOCES Honor Choir, and the Wyoming State Children’s Honor Choir.
Even with all her extracurricular activities, Maggie still manages to maintain a 4.0 GPA.
Accomplishments in Wrestling
Maggie has had a very successful wrestling career, placing at several big national and regional tournaments. She is a five-time Wyoming State Champion, and a 29-time state placer is all styles.
She is also a five-time USA Wrestling All American, and she is the 2017 USA Wrestling Folk Style National Champion.
In dramatic fashion, Maggie won the championship match at last year’s Women’s Nationals in Oklahoma with two seconds to spare.
“There was 30 seconds left and I was down a point and I was on bottom,” she said. “Then, with about two seconds left, I pinned the girl.” Birch added that he was watching on the computer and it was very exciting.
Wrestling Tournaments Maggie Plans to Attend this Year
Last year, Maggie raised all of the money to go to the Women’s Nationals tournament in Oklahoma, as well as competitions in Texas and Las Vegas, by herself.
Maggie will not only be traveling to Japan to compete, but she will also be competing at West Regional Championships in Las Vegas again this year, as well as Women’s Freestyle Nationals in Texas.
The Japan trip will cost $3,300, and the tournaments in Las Vegas and Texas will cost $2,000. Though she raised the money by herself last year, the invitation to go the Japan Open came as a bit of a surprise.
How to Help Maggie Achieve her Goals and Dreams
Maggie wants to wrestle in college, as well as go to the Olympics in 16 to 20 years, so these tournaments are important for her in reaching her goals.
If anyone would like to donate to help Maggie attend these competitions or has any questions, contact Birch at 307-705-2071, or Maggie’s mom Anne at 307-705-0898.
People can also send checks to 15 Long Drive, Rock Springs, WY 82901. Checks can be made out to WAWA (Wyoming Amateur Wrestling Association). The tax ID is #830267382.