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Wrestling: Lake Central’s Gelen Robinson is always up for the challenge

Lake Central junior Gelen Robinswrestles Harrissophomore Seth Meyer during their 220-pound match for semi-state wrestling championship Saturday February 9 2013

Lake Central junior Gelen Robinson wrestles Harrison sophomore Seth Meyer during their 220-pound match for the semi-state wrestling championship Saturday, February 9, 2013, at Merrillville High School in Merrillville, Ind. Robinson pinnded Meyer for the semi-state championship in the 220-pound weight class. | Scott M. Bort~For Sun-Times Media

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Updated: March 15, 2013 1:37PM



ST. JOHN — Lake Central wrestling coach Rod Wartman first saw Gelen Robinson wrestle when he was a seventh grader at Grimmer Middle School.

While Wartman was undoubtedly excited about Robinson’s potential, he heard the whispers claiming Robinson wouldn’t be wrestling very long for the Indians.

“The scuttlebutt was, he’s really a football player, so he probably won’t even be wrestling more than a couple years,’’ recalled Wartman.

“But, no, he’s not just a football player. He’s really both and he proved that last week.

“I knew he was a competitor. It’s something he loves. He thrives on competition. It’s something he’s proud about. It brings out the individual athlete in him.’’

The Indians’ 220-pound junior admits he thrives on competition.

“I love competing,’’ he said. “That’s what I do — even in track. It isn’t as physical as football or wrestling, but I’m still competing. There’s just a feeling I get from competing that I like. It’s not all about winning. It’s about doing the best you can and that’s something that’s important to me. Competition is great.’’

Not only does this three-sport star compete well — he usually dominates.

He placed third at state at 220 pounds last year, losing to Crown Point’s Tyler Kral, who ended up winning the title. He also placed third in the discus and seventh in the shot put at the state track meet last June.

Additionally, Robinson was an all-state performer at outside linebacker for coach Brett St. Germain’s Indians.

He’s already received a scholarship offer from the University of Illinois and drawn strong interest from Michigan, Purdue, Michigan State and Indiana, in the Big Ten, along with Bowling Green and Miami of Ohio, in the MAC.

Robinson (45-0) isn’t really concerned right now with football recruiting. He has wrestling goals he wants to accomplish.

“My mission is to win state,’’ he said. “To me, there’s nothing else that would be acceptable. I know this year I can’t let anything affect me. I have to go out there and do better than I did last year, because I wasn’t satisfied with my performance. I lost a close match, a tough match, to Tyler Kral. I just have to pull off those big wins down there and put myself in a better position than I was last year.’’

Robinson’s quest for a state title begins Friday when he wrestles Zionsville’s Jacob Aven (33-7) in the first round at about 7:30 p.m. Central time.

Other tough opponents he’ll likely face include Warren Central’s Max Hernandez (37-1) in the semifinals and Kokomo’s Fletcher Miller (47-0) in the finals.

“They’re all good wrestlers when we get there,’’ Robinson said. “I know everyone I face is going to be tough from here on out. It’s just really a matter of me doing my job and not overlooking anybody.’’

Wartman likes Robinson’s chances, but won’t make any predictions.

“I think his chances are pretty good,’’ he said. “He has a very good opportunity to win. He’s put himself — and our coaches have put him in a good position to be successful. Usually, when you’re in that position, that’s when good things happen.’’

Robinson won the Merrillville Semistate last week, pinning Lafayette Harrison’s Seth Meyer in 47 seconds.

“I thought at semistate, it was the best wrestling he’s ever done in his life,’’ Wartman said. “Some other coaches came up to me and said how great they thought he was wrestling now. They said he’s not just a brawler now, he’s become a good wrestler and is wrestling at a higher level.’’

Robinson is quick to admit he’s improved his skills.

“I feel I’ve gotten a lot better technique-wise just working with the coaches and other people bigger than me, who’ve been drilling me every day,’’ he said.

People like LC assistant coach Josh Morgan, assistant principal Sean Begley — who wrestled at The Citadel and is a lot bigger than Robinson — along with teammate Alex Tucker (182) and a couple of Robinson’s other former teammates.

“Mr. Begley comes comes up here maybe three times a week or so,’’ Robinson said. “He gives me a great look. He’s a really big guy, so it’s hard to do much against him. He’s a lot stronger than me and knows what to do. He’s been around wrestling a while, and was a good wrestler in college.’’

When asked what makes him so good, Robinson smiled.

“I think it’s my ability to out-work and out-pace people on the mat,’’ he said. “I think that’s what helps me set the tone for my matches. I think my strength and speed also helps me a lot.’’

It’s doubtful any of Robinson’s opponents up to this point would argue.



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