A dream realized for Lovell USA Wrestling champion

David Peck

For one Lovell second grader, a surprise appearance at the Cody USA Wrestling tournament Saturday was a dream come true.
Cotey Smith, 7, a member of the North Big Horn Rams team, was competing at the Cody tournament when his very famous great uncle, and his hero, Randy Couture, paid him a visit.
Cotey’s mother, Rochelle Schultz, helped set it up.
“Cotey knew he was related to a famous wrestler and asked if Randy could come to one of his meets,” Schultz said. I called Nana (Cotey’s grandmother Yolanda Couture Smith, Randy Couture’s sister), and she contacted her brother, who secretly agreed to come.”
Couture is an actor and well-known former wrestler who, according to his biography on the Internet Movie Database, was a successful collegiate wrestler, U.S. Army veteran, Olympian and professional Ultimate Fighting Championship and Mixed Martial Arts competitor.
He served six years in the Army, reaching the rank of sergeant with the 101st Airborne, then attended and wrestled for collegiate wrestling powerhouse Oklahoma State University. A three-time U.S. Olympic team alternate in 1988, 1992 and 1996, he was a semifinalist at the U.S. Olympic Trials, a three-time NCAA Division I All-American and a two-time D1 runner-up at OSU.
He made his debut in the world of professional fighting in 1997 and became a six-time UFC heavyweight and light-heavyweight champion, inducted into the UFC Hall of Fame in 2006.
After his retirement, Couture became an actor and has appeared in numerous film and television productions including “The Expendables” 1, 2 and 3 and the TV shows “The Unit,” “Hawaii Five O” and “NCIS: Los Angeles.”
During his UFC and MMA career, Couture was known as Randy “The Natural” Couture, but to Rochelle and Cotey, he’s Uncle Randy, though he hadn’t seen Cotey in years.
It all happened fast. Rochelle called Yolanda on Thursday, and it just so happened that Couture was in Billings for a speaking engagement. He agreed to come, and having flown into Billings, he changed his return flight back to Las Vegas to the Cody airport.
Yolanda drove to Billings Saturday morning to pick him up, then took him to the tournament in Cody, arriving at the Cody High School Gym around 1 p.m. Meanwhile, Cotey was finding wrestling success himself, earning two first-place medals in folkstyle and freestyle wrestling, the first medals of his young career.
“Randy missed his folkstyle championship match by eight minutes,” Schultz said, “but when Cotey saw him, he gasped and jumped into his arms. Randy put Cotey’s first first-place medal around his neck. He stayed for about 45 minutes and shook at least 30 hands. He also got to give Cotey some wrestling pointers.”
Cotey won both the 8U 49C Division championship in folkstyle and the 8U 49C Division title in freestyle.
“It was a very big day for him,” Schultz summed up. “He was over the moon.”