CHARLOTTESVILLE — Josh Robinson didn’t waste any unnecessary energy leading up to his match against Triton Central on Tuesday night.
The most exertion exhausted by the Eastern Hancock senior heavyweight entailed a soothing calm. A slow stroll to the scorer’s table after removing his warmups was followed by a leisurely snap of his head gear.
Robinson’s pre-match routine lulled any internal distractions into hibernation, but once the whistle blew, the switch flipped, wiping away his 1,000-yard stare.
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“I don’t know. I kind of zone out before a match because if I don’t, I feel like I kind of get out of it,” Robinson explained. “To me that type of stuff before a match, jumping around and jogging, feels excessive, so I stay focused on what I’m going to do.”
Against his opponent, he executed exactly what he’s mastered the 11 matches prior. He won. This time it was by fall in 2 minutes and 52 seconds.
A quick takedown set the pace in the first period, which carried over into a three-point nearfall for Robinson. Up 5-3, he went to work again with a reversal to end the first before a bulldozing takedown in the second period setup the inevitable.
“When the match starts, I just go and do my thing,” Robinson said after the host Royals beat the Tigers 57-24. “This is definitely where I want to be at this point of the season. It’s been easier this season so far, but I know as we get farther along, it’s going to get harder. I’m excited for it.”
Unbeaten at 12-0 on the year, Robinson is one of three Royals with unblemished records through two invitationals and a pair of dual meets this season.
Junior Clayton Cochard (12-0) at 182 pounds and junior Jordyn Wills (11-0) at 145 both received forfeit wins against Triton Central. Overall, the Royals racked up 42 forfeit points and won three of their seven contested matches in their home opener.
Senior Gabe Blake won by decision 3-2 at 138 and Austin Henderson was victorious at 126 before Robinson tacked on his six team points.
A semistate qualifier last year, Robinson finished the 2015-16 season with a 28-11 record. He won the Tri Sectional and was third at the Richmond Regional before losing by fall to Tipton’s Dan Phifer in the first round of the New Castle Semistate.
After the season ended, however, Robinson punched the clock, quite literally.
Spending his offseason working construction and hauling cement, he improved his conditioning and strength quickly while dropping around 20-plus pounds.
“I would like to get to state this year,” Robinson said. “But my main goal is to get as far as I can.”
Royals head coach Keith Oliver said he believes a trip to Bankers Life Fieldhouse in mid-February isn’t out of the question.
“He’s having another good season. I say it all the time; the sky is the limit,” said Oliver whose team is now 10-2 on the year. “If he’s willing to put in the effort and dedicate himself to what he needs to do, the kid is a semistate and state qualifier. Honestly, I expect him to be there.”
Yet, despite the team’s and several individual successes, Robinson and the Royals don’t intend to squander their downtime.
The team has eight consecutive practices ahead after a 4-1 finish at the Union County Invitational on Nov. 26, a 41-36 loss to Lapel on Nov. 30 and a 5-0 championship run at the Cambridge City Lincoln.
Their next event isn’t until Dec. 17 at the Blackford Invitational, which gives the Royals and Robinson ample opportunities to prepare for a difficult stretch.
On Dec. 29, Eastern Hancock competes in the multi-day Connersville Spartan Classic followed by the Avon Super 6 on Jan. 7 and a special dual against rival Knightstown on Jan. 10 at the Hoosier Gym.
“For me, I want to try to get a move down before the next match. Everyone seems to have a move they can go to. Last year it was my headlock throw, but I can’t seem to get it down this year,” Robinson said. “I have to try to find something else as my go-to. If that doesn’t work, then I’ll fall back to the old one. Until then, I’m just going with how it goes because it’s only going to get tougher.”