John Smith wasn’t in the Oklahoma State’s corner for the Big 12 Championship finals Sunday.
Instead Smith let his assistants handle the on-mat coaching as he spent most of the round watching his seven finalists from a tunnel at the BOK Center as he learned his father, Lee Roy Smith Sr., died at about 9 p.m. He was 85.
“Tough day,” John Smith said. “But the last thing he asked when he could speak was, he was concerned about the Big 12 tournament. What a great run. A great father, a father of 10. He has about 50 grandchildren, about 15 great-grandchildren so lucky to have a father that cared.”
OSU redshirt junior Joe Smith is one of those grandchildern. Earlier in the week, he won a wrestle-off against redshirt senior Chandler Rogers to earn the 165-pound spot. Joe Smith, who was making his 165 debut, rallied after two losses to claim fifth place and an automatic qualifying spot for the NCAA Championship in two weeks in Pittsburgh.
“(Joe) was close with my dad, fishing buddies,” John Smith said. “I think we all have a grandfather that we really cared about. Hopefully we did.”
After the Cowboys finished off the championship round by going 6-1 and racking up 158 points during the tournament for their seventh straight Big 12 title, John Smith found some comfort in the Big 12 Championship T-shirt in his right hand.
“It’d be a pretty lonely night if I didn’t have this,” John Smith said. “It makes the night a little bit easier to deal with.”