ALBANY-The Times Union Center crowd started to buzz a little when the announcer said the words, "a defending three-time state champion."
All eyes were on the Division II mat as Peru's Arik Robinson stepped onto the floor for what would be win or lose, his final high school match.
He had been here before, three times, to be exact.
And, like the three previous times, Robinson got the takedown, scored the points and had his hand raised for the fourth time as NYSPHSAA state wrestling champion.
"When I first started, I felt like I was good enough to compete but I never would have even imagined that I could have gotten four championships," Robinson said after the match. "After the first one came, I just felt that I had to do this again every year. I felt like I belonged there and I felt that I was the best one in my bracket."
"He was in a great weight class, maybe the best one in Division II this year," coach Mike Hogan said. "I was more worried about how he would handle his nerves. That was my main concerned but he held it all together."
Indeed, the competition was stiff for Robinson, as five of the eight quarterfinalists at 122-lbs. had either won (three) or been in the state finals.
"It helps when I am wrestling good guys," Robinson said. "The kid I had in the finals (Tristan Rifanburg of Norwich) was only an eighth-grader but he was pretty tough and a defending state champion. I knew he was going out there for his second one, but I knew that I was the veteran and that I was going to man-handle him throughout the match."
Robinson did just that in the first period, getting a takedown of Rifanburg and twice getting back points for a 6-0 lead after two minutes of competition.