Alex Smythe has overcome some adversity during his time on the wrestling mat.
"A lot of injuries and I've taken a lot of defeat in my time," he said. "So I think every match that I start to win, I build more confidence and it puts me in the right direction."
Smythe is an Eden native and chose to wrestle at UB after being recruited by head coach John Stutzman. He was red-shirted last season and his absence was noticeable.
"We missed his leadership ability, we missed his attitude, and his consistent work ethic," Stutzman said. "Now that he's back, you can see the room is different."
He's a leader on the mat who's season is about to go International.
Back in April, Smythe competed in team trials for a shot at making the U23 world team.
"No one really expected me to win it, that's for sure," he said. "Ii was definitely an underdog."
But we've seen underdogs triumph before and after taking down Wisconsin All-American Evan Wick in his weight class finals, Smythe's victory earned him a spot on the team.
This week, he's heading to Romania to compete in the U23 World Championships.
"Pure excitement," Smythe said about competing. "I've been training for a couple of months now and I can't wait to get out there."
It's a win and advance format but the experience will be unlike any other as he represents UB and Western New York on the International stage.
"I think it just validates the things we're doing here and validates that we're doing things right," said Stutzman.
"It shows our other teammates and anyone else in this area that anybody can do it," Smythe added. "I'm a local kid and hard work brought me here."
Smythe's first match is set for this weekend.