Robbins climbs to the top for Greene County
DES MOINES — After winning a state title, Greene County’s McKinley Robbins wasn’t out celebrating.
He was practicing.
“I know it sounds weird (being at practice), but I can’t go a day without doing it and being involved with the sport,” Robbins said. “My desire is to be the best I can be in everything wrestling.
“I want to be a world champion, and I want to be an Olympic champion.”
The 2021 Class 2A 120-pound gold medalist was still working on his technique on Sunday. The only difference? This time, he had a championship bracket sitting in his house.
“Honestly, he just loves the sport. When you enjoy it and make the most of tough matches and tough practices, that’s a big part of the equation,” said third-year Greene County head coach Zach Beekman, a 2008 graduate of Pocahontas Area. “He was back at home (Sunday morning) doing farm chores. That’s just who he is.”
Robbins, a sophomore for Greene County, lost in the state finals last season to Webster City’s Camron Phetxoumphone. That defeat prepared and drove him to getting better.
“I wanted to make sure I didn’t feel that way again,” Robbins said. “It changed my mindset completely. I knew that I didn’t ever want to experience that kind of feeling again. That’s what helped me out the most.
“Having my hand raised at the end of this year’s final match was such a relief, knowing that all my hard work had finally paid off.”
Beekman, a three-time qualifier at Pocahontas Area and a state runner up at 135 pounds his senior year, knows how much last year’s loss helped Robbins this time around.
“McKinley had unfinished business,” Beekman said. “After being so close as a freshman and me as a young coach, I didn’t think we put together the right gameplan.
“We just didn’t have him set up to have a successful finals match last year.”
On Saturday night, the top-ranked sophomore was face-to-face with No. 2 junior Blaine Frazier of Notre Dame/West Burlington. Robbins prevailed 7-5, logging two takedowns, a reversal and an escape. Frazier had a takedown, two escapes and a penalty.
Robbins, who was ranked No. 1 earned the second seed. Frazier was the top seed.
The Greene County junior beat third-rated Keaton Zeimet (39-3) of Central DeWitt in the semifinals and No. 7 Jonathon Burnette (40-4) of Spirit Lake Park in the quarterfinals in overtime. He earned a 9-4 win over Davis County’s Dawson Townsend in the first round.
“As a wrestler, McKinley is seasoned,” Beekman said. “He has been at some high-quality tournaments and national tournaments. He doesn’t get fazed and always seems prepared and confident on the big stage.”
In his rookie campaign, Robbins went 37-2, losing 5-0 to Phetxoumphone in the finals at 106 pounds.
Robbins is now 71-2 in his career.
“The one thing that drives me the most is my desire to be the best,” Robbins said. “For me, I think it was all about the mental preparation more than the physical.
“This tournament takes a lot to win on the mental side. That was the most growth I had over the course of a year.”