ST. JOHN | Gelen Robinson knows his future is in football. He knows his last name is most-often associated with basketball.
That hasn't stopped him from becoming the top-ranked 220 pound wrestler in the state.
"I come from a basketball family," he said, "but it's good to be different."
Robinson is one of a handful of wrestlers in the area to head into the postseason with an unblemished individual record. The Indians junior knows that puts a target on his back.
"I think it's a good thing," he said. "People wrestle me their hardest and that just means I have to step it up even more."
The football accolades have poured in. He was recently named to the junior all-state team. He was Times Defensive Player of the Year and honorable mention all-state. That's where most of the patches on his letterman's jacket come from.
Robinson began wrestling as little more than a means to stay in shape in the football offseason. It didn't take long for him to realize he could thrive on the mat. What's more, he wasn't in the spotlight the way he was on turf or would be on the hardwood.
"It's not as much pressure but it's still a lot of hard work," Robinson said. "I'm at my peak right now, wrestling better than I ever have."
Robinson calls his wrestling style "very basic" and "not fancy," but scoffs at the idea that he relies on superior strength and athleticism, insisting he does know and use technique.
Last season, Robinson finished third at the state meet in his weight class as a sophomore. In his semifinal match with Crown Point's Tyler Kral, Robinson had two points erased when officials ruled Robinson wasn't inbounds on the takedown. Kral went on to win the match and the 220-pound title.
The only acceptable ending to his junior campaign, in Robinson's mind, is one in which he's standing atop the tallest part of the podium.
"Last year, I didn't reach my goals and that's made me work a lot harder," he said. "(Winning a state championship) is my goal and that's what I want to do."