By Josh Brown
COLUMBUS – As Tippecanoe’s first state qualifier since 2010, Austin Robbins had a lot on his shoulders.
So he tried to not pay attention.
And in the end, the Red Devil junior was able to rally from an early deficit and come up clutch a number of times when he needed to, edging ahead and grabbing a 10-4 victory in his first ever match at the Division II state wrestling tournament at the Schottenstein Center in Columbus Thursday.
“It was awesome, Robbins said. “I just tried not to look up and see all of the people. But it all goes away once you step out there. You don’t hear anything, you don’t see anything. You’re just totally focused on your opponent. I was really excited to get that first win.”
“It was exciting,” said Tippecanoe coach Jordan Krebs. “Like I sad, it’s fitting that Austin is the first of this group to get here. And for him to get that first win, it was huge.
“He just seemed to take (the atmosphere) in stride, which relaxed us as coaches. But that’s the way he is. He keeps his composure and works hard.”
And he had to work hard against Carroll Bloom-Carroll senior Zach Gibson.
Robbins got the first takedown of the match, but Gibson took a 4-2 lead early in the second period. Robbins stayed calm and tied the score with a takedown – and kept Gibson from escaping to preserve the tie heading into the third.
“It’s always a big influence on me if I get the first takedown,” Robbins said. “If the other guy gets it, my mind starts thinking negative things. But if I get it, I get more confident and know I can do what I want.
“That helped a lot, not giving up points near the end of the second. I gave up two at the end of the first, so I knew I had to get back out and score.”
Robbins escaped early in the third to take a 5-4 lead, and with 1:30 left in the bout, he scored another takedown to go up 7-4. Gibson had to take a chance near the end to get out, but Robbins caught him and scored three near-fall points at the final whistle as an exclamation point.
“Once you start to increase that margin, your confidence goes way up,” Robbins said. “I tried not to let the atmosphere amplify things, but being at a big tournament like this, there’s just no stopping it.”
“I’m very proud of him,” Krebs said. “I have been all season. He’s done a tremendous job. Where other guys have been up and down, he’s been on a steady increase throughout. And he’s very coachable. He can make adjustments if we throw something out in the middle of a match.”
Robbins will face Carlisle’s Jimmy Sandlin in the second round today.
Contact Josh Brown at (937) 440-5251 or firstname.lastname@example.org, or follow @TroyDailySports on Twitter.