Chances are high that Starpoint’s Anthony Robinson is the only wrestler in the 285-pound weight class in New York State who led his school’s football team in rushing just a few months ago.
Then again, not many competitors, regardless of weight class, possess the pure athleticism Robinson does.
While the senior’s talents on the gridiron helped the Spartans football team three-peat as Class A North champs in the fall, Robinson is looking to help his own cause during his first appearance at the NYSPHSAA Championships Friday and Saturday at the Times Union Center in Albany as the top seed among Division II 285-pounders.
“He has the raw talent and the upside, but his athleticism really carries him a long way,” Starpoint coach Stephen Hart said. “His speed is unmatched at that weight class, and he’s powerful enough to wrestle kids 50 pounds heavier than him. He hasn’t been outmatched in strength one time this season. In the bottom position, nobody in New York State has rowed him out for longer than 20 seconds.”
At 230 pounds, the fact that Robinson is No. 1 in his bracket in just his third year wrestling is “pretty unprecedented,” according to Hart.
After a 45-7 breakthrough junior season that saw Robinson win Section VI Class A and Niagara Frontier Wrestling Officials Association Classic titles, he is 37-6 this season with first-place finishes at the Section VI Division II Championships, Class B Championships, ECIC Championships and Ken-Ton Invitational. He also placed fourth at Eastern States and the NFWOA Classic.
Lew-Port’s Laith Alsous won the D-II 285-pound state crown last year as the third seed. Robinson has as good a shot as any at keeping that title in Western New York for a second straight year.
“His mindset is we’re going to win a state title,” Hart said. “He’s already beat a few wrestlers in his bracket. There will be tough matches, but I wouldn’t say there’s anybody in his weight he cannot beat.”
The Division II field as a whole is among the strongest Section VI has sent to the state tournament in some time. Thirty of the 53 wrestlers from Western New York are in the D-II field, including a state-leading 15 wild cards. D-I sent seven wild cards.
“I think that’s definitely a few more than we usually have,” Falconer coach Drew Wilcox said. “I just think it shows a lot of depth in the small schools section. We don’t always get the recognition statewide that we should. The top-end kids and depth in the section this year shows it.”
All four of Falconer’s qualifiers are seeded No. 2 in their respective weights.
Dylan Ingrao is in a deep 152-pound bracket after placing fourth at 145 last year. Dan Torres (160) was fifth at 152 last year, and Corey Keefe (195) was sixth at 182. Robbie Penhollow (170) is the most improved on the team.
“We’ve had some real good kids obviously,” Wilcox said. “Jake Peru won a state title two years ago, but we’ve never had four guys seeded this high. Every bracket has four or five kids that can win this thing, so our guys are more focused on where they finish.
“I expect us to wrestle well. Physically and mentally we’re up to the challenge. They’re wrestling the best they have all year and I’m excited to see what the results end up being.”
Other Western New Yorkers who have top three seeds include Niagara Wheatfield’s Justin McDougald (No. 3 126 in D-I), Niagara Falls’ Willie McDougald (No. 2 132 in D-I), Lancaster’s Joe Andreessen (No. 2 220 in D-I), Fredonia’s Hector Colom (No. 3 132 in D-II), Newfane’s Zach Brown (No. 3 152 in D-II), Chautauqua Lake’s Bryce Rowe (No. 3 160 in D-II), Maple Grove’s Zach Trim (No. 3 195 in D-II) and Pioneer’s Mike Rigerman (No. 2 220 in D-II).
Justin McDougald was the state runner-up at 113 last year, while Colom was the same at 132. Andreessen was fifth in 182 and Warren McDougald sixth at 132.
A complete list of participants from Western New York:
Division I (23)
99: Colin Coughenour-7 (Niagara Wheatfield)
106: Ty Bartolomei-11 (North Tonawanda), Jake Harry (Lancaster)
113: Parker Rozler (Lancaster)
120: 8-Aidan Rabideau-10 (Clarence)
126: 3-Justin McDougald-10 (Niagara Wheatfield), Anthony Corigliano (Clarence)
132: 2-Willie McDougald-10 (Niagara Falls)
138: Vinny Catanzaro (Williamsville North), Jacob Dewolf-11 (Niagara Wheatfield)
145: 8-Warren McDougald-11 (Niagara Wheatfield)
152: 6-Ryan Stencel-10 (Lancaster), Adam Daghestani-10 (Grand Island)
160: Josh Thibeault-11 (Niagara Wheatfield)
170: Dan Emblidge (Grand Island), Dominik Thomas-11 (St. Francis), Derek Wojciechowski (Frontier)
182: Steven Daskavitz (Lockport), Connor Kenney-11 (Grand Island)
195: 8-Cam Walter (Williamsville North)
220: 2-Joe Andreessen (Lancaster)
285: 4-Calik Kennedy (Amherst), 5-Jaquan Johnson (Grand Island)
Division II (30)
99: Andrew Lucinski-9 (Newfane)
106: 6-Mikey Evans-9 (Springville), Doug Ciszak (Pioneer)
113: Mohamed Alshawi-8 (Lackawanna)
120: Nick Bierfeldt-11 (Olean), Brendan Ramsey-9 (Chautauqua Lake)
126: 5-Zach Braddell-11 (Tonawanda), Owen Kissell (Alden/Akron)
132: 3-Hector Colom (Fredonia), 4-Matt Evans (Randolph), Jacob Vergien-11 (Iroquois)
138: Giovanni Russo-11 (Fredonia)
145: 4-Cory Day-11 (Iroquois), Caleb Riordan (Pioneer)
152: 2-Dylan Ingrao (Falconer), 3-Zach Brown (Newfane)
160: 2-Dan Torres (Falconer), 3-Bryce Rowe (Chautauqua Lake)
170: 2-Robbie Penhollow-11 (Falconer), 4-Jacob Sarow (Alden/Akron)
182: 4-Giuseppe Hoose (Southwestern), 7-Julian Nixon (Newfane), Patrick Walsh-11 (Olean)
195: 2-Corey Keefe (Falconer), 3-Zach Trim (Maple Grove)
220: 2-Mike Rigerman-11 (Pioneer), Ben Szymanowski-11 (Chautauqua Lake)
285: 1-Anthony Robinson (Starpoint), Nick Becker (Randolph), Kiar Parker (Cheektowaga)