Wrestler: The only true sport
By TERRY JONES
© St. Petersburg Times, published December 3, 2000
NORTH TAMPA -- When he entered Chamberlain High School as a freshman, Robert Genever wanted to play football for the Chiefs. But, he said, he missed the first day of practice and was not allowed to try out for the team.
A friend told him wrestling was an aggressive contact sport, so on the first day of practice he was there and ready to learn.
"It was just what I was looking for, with plenty of action and lots of hard work," Genever said. "Now wrestling is my sport, my only sport. To me it is the only true sport."
In his freshman season, he was beaten in most matches. He started out at a chunky 190 pounds and had to face some of the big guys.
Now he competes at 152 pounds and sometimes at 160 to get tougher matches.
In his sophomore season he missed qualifying for the state tournament by just one win. He looked for a way to improve in the off season and began competing in the USA Wrestling freestyle and Greco-Roman tournaments on weekends last summer.
"Those tournaments are better than what I have heard about camp," he said. "I get to compete with some of the best wrestlers in Florida and I win in every match even when the other guy gets his hand raised. I win because I learn what he does to beat me and then I make it work for me."
Genever's hard work has paid off. So far this season he is 4-0 with wins over good wrestlers from Manatee and Bloomingdale.
"Robert is one of our team captains," said Chamberlain head coach Jeff Duncan. "He sets a positive example for the younger members of the team by his hard work. When someone is slacking off, Robert will challenge him to do it right. He is almost like having another assistant coach on the mat. He learns the moves and teaches his teammates."
Duncan says Genever works best on his feet and scores most of his points with a perfected high crotch shot. He has the ability to seek out an opponent's weaknesses in a match and creates defenses as he goes along.
"Actually he is a well-balanced wrestler and has a lot of improvement since he first walked out on the mat two years ago," Duncan said. "He gets pins, but he is still working on his technique. Rolling an opponent over onto his back when he is strong and resisting requires a lot of practice and skill."
When Genever isn't practicing on the mats with his teammates or doing homework, he runs to develop endurance. He realizes when the state tournament comes around, the tougher matches will be won in the final minutes when both competitors are exhausted.
"I am working on a 3.0 grade-point-average," he said. "Not only will low grades make me ineligible to compete, they will keep me out of college. Endurance is very important in a long tough match. Some guys just gas out."
Genever's goals for this season are high, but simple. He wants to remain healthy and qualify for the state tournament.
"I want to go all the way to states and put up a fight," he said. "I also want to win district and regional championships. I am hungry and I want it. To get there I will have to step it up. Last year I got a concussion and missed much of the season. This year I am healthy. I'll need a winning record for good seedings so every match counts."
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