By JEREMY HINES
Beech Groveâ€™s Ethan Smiley isnâ€™t big on talking about himself. After repeated questions for this article about his wrestling and other accomplishments, Smiley barely mustered a word. But, when the questions turned to his teammates or his family, he was much more talkative.
â€œEthan is very quiet,â€ Hornet coach Matt Irwin said. â€œHe isnâ€™t the first person you notice in the room. Heâ€™d be the last person youâ€™d notice. He is humble and itâ€™s hard to get him to brag on himself. Thatâ€™s how he was raised. He knows how to act and how to carry himself in a good manner.â€
Even though he wonâ€™t do it, Smiley has plenty to brag about on the mat and in the classroom. The Beech Grove junior is currently ranked No. 8 at 132 pounds. He has qualified for state both of his previous seasons. Last year he earned a spot on the podium with an 8th-place finish at 120 pounds.
Off the mat, Smiley is ranked No. 1 in his class.
â€œHe has a GPA of over 4.2,â€ Irwin said. â€œEverything he does, he does it with all his effort. He takes everything seriously. He is an extremely hard worker with a no nonsense approach. He wants to get in, get out and get things accomplished.â€
Ethan would like to place higher at the state level this year than he did last year. It is equally important to him to get a teammate to state this year as well.
â€œMy goal is just to be grateful for the opportunity to wrestle and be with my teammates,â€ Smiley said. â€œWe are better than we have been the last few years. I really want to bring some teammates to state this year. We have some decent guys that have a chance. Bailey Moore, our 138 pounder, could have a very good season. He is one of my practice partners.â€
Ethanâ€™s older brother, Evan, was a two-time state qualifier for the Hornets. He finished fourth at 145 pounds his senior season.
â€œI started wrestling when I was four,â€ Ethan said. â€œMy brother was wrestling and I wanted to do it too. He still drills with me when he gets a chance.â€
Currently Evan is wrestling at 141 pounds for the University of Indianapolis.
â€œI think Ethan has really taken a lot from Evanâ€™s work ethic,â€ Irwin said. â€œTheir styles arenâ€™t similar, except that they are both very heavy handed. But they are very big on hard work and not cutting corners.â€
Coach Irwin believes Ethan has the ability to contend for a state title on the mat. Irwin said that Ethan has put a lot of work in during the offseason. He has gotten stronger, really worked with his nutrition and has done all of the right things to put himself in a good position to make a run.
Last season Ethan wrestled Dylan Culp four times during the state tournament. He lost in the sectional final to Culp 6-0, but then turned it around and beat Culp 4-2 in the regional final. Culp won the semistate championship match 4-2. The two met one more time, in the 7th and 8th place match in the state finals. Culp won that battle 5-4.
â€œI think my biggest win last year was at regionals when I finally beat Dylan Culp,â€ Ethan said. â€œThat was my most satisfying win. He had beaten me numerous times before, but that was the first time I finally beat him.â€
Ethan would like to wrestle in college, but he hasnâ€™t put much thought into that. Heâ€™s hoping to go to Purdue and study plant science.
â€œIâ€™m really into botany and plant science,â€ Ethan said. â€œIâ€™ve been fortunate to work with a Purdue professor and do science research. Iâ€™d like to work in agriculture and get a degree in plant science. Thatâ€™s what I work toward.â€
Wrestling is Ethanâ€™s only high school sport. When he was younger he tried his hand at baseball and golf, but didnâ€™t pursue those sports in high school. He usually shoots in the 90s in golf, he said.
Ethan also plays guitar a little and loves comic books, especially batman.
Ethan is very family oriented. He enjoys hanging out with his brother, or his parents Phil and Christa. He also enjoys playing with his dog.
â€œOverall, Ethan is pretty serious, but he can be a goofball at times,â€ Irwin said. â€œHe cares about other people and he wants his teammates to be successful. That is extremely important to him.â€