Wrestling corner rugs made locally, used nationally

Not counting his family, Michael Smith has two passions in life.

Carpets and flooring as well as the sport of wrestling.

Thus, it only made sense to combine the two with his venture into corner rugs, which are red and green and help fans, officials, coaches and even wrestlers to become more aware on the mats.

“The officials like them because in the heat of a moment, the coaches are in the right corner and meet management people like them because they create an instant warm-up area because the wrestlers on deck know exactly what side to go to and can immediately begin warming up and then step right on the mat,” Smith said.

While the officials and meet management like the rugs, their main purpose is to protect the mats as coach after coach sits in folding chairs in the corners.

“The rugs will last 10 to 20 years and can really help to save the mats,” Smith said. “We can even personalize them, so schools can get booster groups or sponsors to purchase them and then have the corner mats branded.”

Smith, who owns and operates Smitty’s Floors in Steubenville, was approached about the idea by Ron Mauck, for whom the OVAC Wrestling Tournament is named, several years ago when Wheeling played host to the NCAA Division II National Tournament.

“That was first set of corner rugs ever made,” Smith said.

The rugs have been used at the OVAC Tournament each year since, but they’ve also been unveiled at many major tournaments across the country.

Last year, the corner rugs were used in the NCAA Division I Tournament in Philadelphia. They’ve also been utilized in the United States Open in Cleveland the last two years.

While there are more than 300 sets of corner rugs – developed by Smith – in use throughout the nation, the rugs will be used this spring at the United States Olympic Trials in Iowa City.

Smith gives credit to Bridgeport High product Bobby Douglas – who is still heavily involved with USA Wrestling – as the individual who opened the door for the Olympic Trials.

“All of the junior tournaments the rugs have been used at have been through Coach Douglas,” Smith said. “It ties in well with the Junior Olympic Training site we’ve got in Steubenville.”

Along with opening doors to major tournaments, Douglas has helped Smith in the process of developing the corner rugs into serving all sorts of purposes.

“We spray all of the rugs for MRSA and staph, which is good for two years,” Smith said. “Coach Douglas told me to be pro-active and them turn into sanitation rugs.”

Other schools and/or tournaments to be utilizing Smitty’s corner rugs are: Blair Academy, which is the No. 1 team in the nation; Grand Canyon University, Wadsworth, Alliance, Oak Harbor, Parkersburg South, Medina, Cambridge, Barnesville, Canton Glen Oak, Dover, East Liverpool and Wheeling Park. The rugs are also used at the West Virginia State mat tournament.

The rugs are made in the basement of the Sportatorium in Steubenville and he’s brought in several former Ohio Valley mat standouts – now residing around the nation – into his business to serve as promoters around the country.

Kelly Shields, David Bertolino, James Lamont and Holly Price promote the corner rugs in Florida, Arizona, Texas and Washington D.C., respectively.

Smith – who is a Wellsville High graduate and a former OVAC Wrestling finalist in 1993- is also providing the red carpet for Saturday’s finals when the athletes are announced en route to the placement matches.

“It seems like only yesterday I was at the Wheeling Civic Center (WesBanco Arena) wrestling,” Smith recalled. “Time flies, but we’re continuing to work hard and treat people right, which are the key elements.”

Staskey can be reached at sstaskey@timesleaderonline.com