Mount Baker senior Natalie Smith went into her first Mat Classic three years ago dreaming of becoming a four-time state champion, but each year she left the Tacoma Dome in disappointment.
Not this time.
Smith, who moved up to 125 pounds for her postseason run, earned first-period pins in the opening round and quarterfinals before earning a 6-2 decision in the semis. And Smith ended her career the way every senior hopes Saturday, Feb. 20 — getting a state-title winning pin.
“It’s everything I hoped it would be,” said Smith after pinning Eastmont’s Morgan Jones in 2 minutes, 59 seconds. “I’m trying to soak it all in. Last year I was so close, and now at least I got one (state championship), and I’m proud of it.”
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Smith led 4-2 over Jones midway through the second period when she locked in an arm bar and held on tight until Smith heard the ref’s hand slap the mat. Smith jumped up, raised her hands to the sky and then fell to her knees in celebration.
Smith finished her career a four-time medalist, earning an eighth-place medal, a seventh-place finish and she was a runner-up last season.
“It’s all the hours, days and years I put into it paying off right now,” Smith said. “I didn’t win state in that match. I won it in all those hours and those days of sweat and blood and tears. All that hard work pays off.”