Wrestling: Lake Central’s Gelen Robinson named P-T Wrestler of the Year
By JOHN O’MALLEY Post-Tribune correspondent March 30, 2013 11:08PM
Gelen Robinson, a junior, is photographed at Lake Central High School in St. John, Ind. Wednesday March 20, 2013. Robinson, who took first place in the 220-pound weight class during state wrestling finals, is the Post-Tribune Wrestler of the Year. | Stephanie Dowell~Sun-Times Media
Updated: May 1, 2013 4:07PM
ST. JOHN — Gelen Robinson knew exactly what he wanted after placing third at the IHSAA state wrestling tournament last year as a sophomore.
Lake Central’s 220-pound three-sport standout simply went out and achieved what he desired most.
What Robinson desired more than anything on the mat was to be crowned a state champion
The junior capped off a perfect season (49-0) with a state title by beating previously unbeaten Fletcher Miller (50-1) of Kokomo in the state title match.
“It meant a lot to me, especially after last year’s state tournament,’’ Robinson said. “I was definitely a lot more focused this year. I wouldn’t let anything, or anybody, take that away from me. I tried to stay that way all year by working extra hard in the room.
“It wasn’t a matter of doing different workouts, it was just having more focus and going 10 times harder than last year. I was just trying to improve on everything.’’
You might say Robinson was all ‘G’d Up.’
With his mom and dad and some 25 relatives gathered at Banker’s Life Fieldhouse watching, Robinson was able to realize his dream.
Johnny Gbur, a close friend, designed around 50 shirts for Robinson to distribute to family members and close friends at the state finals.
On the front of the shirts was the slogan “All G’d Up” with 2013 Lake Central Indians printed. On the back was printed: “Robinson 220” in big letters.
“Johnny made the idea up all by himself and went out and got the shirts,’’ Robinson said. “He and one of his friends designed it. He’s a real smart kid. That really meant a lot to me. There’s no way I could repay him for that.’’
Nevertheless, Robinson found the best way to repay Gbur’s kindness and generosity was by winning a state title.
His tunnel vision throughout the season paid big dividends under the postseason lights.
“That’s exactly how I looked at it,’’ Robinson said. “Anytime something would set me aside from that, I would think of last year’s loss. I would always try to improve on what I was doing wrong, and try and get better.’’
Robinson improved his technique quite a bit.
“Last year, I was starting to get there with it, even though there was really a lot more conditioning and getting in better shape. This year, I improved a lot more on everything on the bottom, and that helped me improve technique-wise.’’
Lake Central wrestling coach Rod Wartman said Robinson employed a business-like approach all season.
“Gelen was always focused and wrestling the match on the mat — and that’s the way you win,’’ he said. “Kyle Ayersman (a three-time state champion for LC now at Purdue) was just like that, too. He did a good job of preparing for the match on the mat. Gelen was always focused on what was happening now. His leadership was pretty good, too. He wasn’t the type of guy who would rally the troops with his words — so to speak — but with his actions on the mat. Everything you would ask him to do, he would try and do.
“He would use different moves we would review with him as coaches and work on certain things. Some guys don’t use them even when you show ’em, but he would use them. Gelen’s a victim of what his coaches (Wartman, Josh Morgan and Luke Triveline) taught him. If you showed Gelen something, he’d go out and use it on the mat. He’s always been very coachable.’’
Wartman wrestled Robinson five times at heavyweight in an effort to really challenge him.
“It wasn’t about what was better for the team those times, it was about what was best for Gelen to get better and focus (on the prize) of winning state. He really wanted to win state — whatever route he had to take. Whatever we told him or were trying to teach him, he bought into those things.
“He got very competitive and hungry in terms of what he wanted to accomplish this year.”
“The push and the drive — that’s what made him a champion as far as I’m concerned — along with his competitiveness. It was the mental push and drive, too, not just the physical push and drive he had that helped him become a champion.’’