Robinson refuses to fade into the county background

Just a few weeks from districts, Robinson is 15-4.

By TERRY JONES, Times Correspondent
Published January 16, 2007

With six seniors and only three potential state placers, Robinson was expected to take its lumps and build slowly.

That didn't happen.

Though the Knights have taken a few lumps, they have handed out many more.

Just a few weeks from districts, Robinson is 15-4 with some impressive finishes in several tough tournaments. The Knights have dispatched Durant, Chamberlain and Sickles, three strong teams, in duals.

Coach Tom Montero was neither a high school state champion nor an NCAA champion, but he is skilled in the sport and is a good motivator.

"My kids won't gas out and they won't back away in a match," Montero said. "Our workouts are intense. Some of the kids make up excuses to miss practice they forget they already used. I used them all myself in high school.

"But they are getting more consistent at being on the practice mats and on time."

The Knights have surprised many of their dual and tournament opponents and don't show any signs of slowing down.

"With the help of my seniors and a few underclassmen stepping up a level above what was expected of them, we are not only building for the future, but wrestling competitively now," Montero said.

Seniors Joe Santiago (17-3 at 140; eighth in the state last year) and Rudy Santiago (17-1 at 152) have been impressive. (They're not related.)

Demarcus Poole is the third senior leader. The 160-pounder is a four-year starter who missed qualifying for the state meet by only a few points each of the past three years.

Montero said he has a good chance of qualifying this season.

A pair of underclassmen also has stepped up for the Knights.

Junior 112-pounder Matt Willis (112) is 20-4 and getting better. Sophomore Zach Boyer (119) is 18-4 and was a middle-school state champ in Colorado before moving Tampa.