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Pat Smith of Oklahoma wins 50th Junior Nationals fantasy bracket voting, beating Sean Hage of Georgia, 54%-46%

by Gary Abbott, USA Wrestling

Pat Smith of Oklahoma, winner of the 50th Junior Nationals freestyle fantasy bracketWith a late rally of support by voters on the final day, Pat Smith of Oklahoma won the interactive 32-athlete bracket featuring the best Men’s Junior Freestyle competitors of the last 50 years of the Junior Nationals.

Smith received 54% of the vote, with Hage finishing with 46% of the vote over the four days allotted for the championship round. Hage held a lead for most of the four days, including much of the final day, but supporters of Smith came on strong to tilt the vote in his favor in the final hours.

Smith, who won Junior National freestyle titles in 1988 and 1989, was a three-time Oklahoma state high school champion for Del City High School (1987-89), and was twice named Outstanding Wrestler. He competed for Oklahoma State, where he made history by becoming the first four-time NCAA Div. I wrestling champion. Smith was also second in 1996 U.S. Olympic Team Trials in freestyle.

Hage won three Junior Nationals titles in freestyle (1993-1995) and was also Junior Nationals champion in Greco-Roman three times (1993-1995), making him the first six-time Junior Nationals champion. In addition to his six Junior National titles, Hage also won two Cadet National titles, giving him a combined eight titles. Hage won four Georgia state titles for Harrison High School from 1992-1995. Hage competed in college for the University of West Virginia.

Fans were asked to vote based upon their Junior National freestyle careers only, and should not reflect their successes in Greco-Roman, nor how well they did in college and the international levels.

Here is how each finalist worked his way through the fantasy bracket.

Pat Smith (Del City, Okla.), champion

Round of 32 - Pat Smith (OK) dec. Mark Angle (PA), 72%-28%

Round of 16 - Pat Smith (OK) dec. Steve Knight (IA), 84%-16%

Quarterfinals - Pat Smith (OK,) dec. Coleman Scott (PA), 65%-35%

Semifinals - Pat Smith (OK) dec. Steve Mocco (NJ), 59%-41%

Finals – Pat Smith (OK) dec. Sean Hage (GA), 54%-46%

Sean Hage (Kennesaw, Ga.), runner-up

Round of 32 - Sean Hage (GA) dec. Sheldon Thomas (DE), 70%-30%

Round of 16 - Sean Hage (GA) dec. Alan Fried (OH), 61%-39%

Quarterfinals - Sean Hage (GA) dec. Brent Metcalf (MI), 58%-42%

Semifinals - Sean Hage (GA) dec. Johny Hendricks (OK), 73% - 27%

Finals – Pat Smith (OK) dec. Sean Hage (GA), 54%-46%

USA Wrestling fans can review the results of the entire bracket by clicking below:
50th Junior Freestyle Nationals - Fantasy Bracket

The first USA Wrestling Junior Nationals was held in the Fieldhouse at the University of Iowa in 1971, and contested only in men’s freestyle. With the 2020 event cancelled due to the pandemic, this year’s version will be the 50th time our nation’s best high school wrestlers have come together to battle for national titles and All-American honors. Numerous World and Olympic champions and medalists have competed in this prestigious event.

The 2021 USA Wrestling USMC Junior and 16U National Championships will be held at the FargoDome in Fargo, N.D., July 16-23, with competition in men’s freestyle, Greco-Roman and women’s freestyle.

Next year will mark the 50th year in which Greco-Roman has been contested at the Junior Nationals, so a Greco-Roman fantasy bracket will be created in 2022. In addition, next year is also the 20th year of women’s freestyle at the Junior Nationals, and a fantasy bracket will be created to recognize that special milestone in 2022 also.

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