Greene County's McKinley Robbins (left) poses with his silver medal following the conclusion of the Class 2A 132 pound state championship match Feb. 19 in Des Moines. Robbins lost to Notre Dame's Blaine Frazier, 5-3.  BRANDON HURLEY | JEFFERSON HERALDGreene County's McKinley Robbins (left) became the Rams' first-ever three-time state finalist Feb. 18 after defeating Union's Caleb Olson, 4-2 in the 132 pound 2A semifinals.  BRANDON HURLEY | JEFFERSON HERALD

STATE WRESTLING: After securing a silver medal for the second time in three years, Robbins is leaving his mark as an all-timer

“(McKinley) knows the stakes are even higher. If he wants that second title, everything that he does for the next 365 days is going to have to be intentional.” - Greene County head coach Zach Beekman

By Brandon Hurley
Managing Editor


The agony of defeat can be life’s greatest motivator.

Greene County’s McKinley Robbins has been remarkably close to a pair of state titles – hoping to add to his 2021 state championship he snagged a year ago – only to frustratingly come up a tad short.
Despite that a second state silver medal for the second time in three years, the former state champion has already staked his claim on a short list of the greatest Rams wrestlers in history.
The junior became the first three-time state finalist in the combined history of Jefferson-Scranton/Greene County wrestling Feb. 19, reaching the Class 2A 132 pound state title in a rematch with Burlington Notre Dame’s Blaine Frazier.

Though Robbins lost 5-3 Saturday, denying him back-to-back state titles, he remains on pace to become the all-time winningest wrestler in school history. He’s just 32 victories from breaking the career wins record, already amassing 10 career state tournament wins, while he still has a legitimate shot to become the school’s first-ever two-time state champion.
Robbins was out-muscled in his championship loss, struggling to make a dent in a determined Frazier’s nearly flawless game plan. Frazier had a little extra motivation on his side entering their title bout.
Robbins beat Frazier in last winter’s 120 pound state championship, which would eventually become the senior’s final loss of his career. Frazier produced a ridiculous winning streak this winter of 53 straight matches, culminating with last week’s title win. The upperclassmen had reached the state semifinals four times in his career, entering his second straight title match with 194 career victories in tow, but never was able to capture the elusive state title until Saturday.

Greene County head coach Zach Beekman said Robbins’ loss to Frazier - his second this winter to the Notre Dame upperclassmen - was a matter of not attacking enough.

“(He) didn’t have a lot of movement,” the coach said Saturday in Des Moines. “He kept hanging his arm and didn’t really move up to do anything with it. That kid is tough. We didn’t wrestle the best, we didn’t push the base, we needed to create angles and take multiple shots.”

Robbins powered his way through an eventful state tournament, making significant waves once again in his third straight appearance. He pinned his opening round opponent, Caden Kerr of North Fayette Valley in the second period, but needed a last-second takedown at the buzzer to scoot past ADM’s Aiden Flora in the quarterfinals. Robbins trailed by one with 30 seconds left, tied the match at 5 with 12 seconds remaining before pulling off the last second victory, 7-5 with a workmanlike TD.  

Despite the close, 4-2 winning score in the semifinals, Robbins kept Union’s Caleb Olson at bay for much of the match. The junior said he encountered a much-needed jolt following his near upset loss in the quarters.

“That match shouldn’t have been that close, in my eyes,” Robbins said referencing the Feb. 18 second round win. “I knew I just had to pick it up or I wasn’t going to the finals. Wilson was a tough guy, he likes to scrap it out, so do I, so it took a higher pace.”

Frazier’s familiarity with Robbins was perhaps the biggest challenge in the championship match, Beekman said, and perhaps it took its toll on the Ram grappler.

“They know each other, it’s a little bit mental,” Beekman said. “(Robbins) got beat by him earlier in the year, and he wrestled about the same. More of a straight on shot instead of creating an angle.”

After Robbins won his first state title last winter, he made it a goal to win two more championships. It hurts not being able to reach that, coach Beekman said, and he feels his frustrations.

“It’s tough. You make it this far and everybody wants to be at the top,” Beekman said. “It’s kind of hard to process the fact that you’ve worked all year and the years prior to get ready for this moment.”

There’s plenty to still to be proud of, for sure after producing a 45-3 record ending with a trip to the state final. Robbins spent much of this season ranked either No. 1 or No. 2, securing his third district title and third Heart of Iowa Conference championship along the way. He’s on pace to break the all-time wins record by January of next year.
The records are rather striking, easily putting Robbins among the most elite athletes in school history:

-  He boasts a 116-6 career record. He’s on pace to break the Jefferson-Scranton/Greene County all-time career wins record of 147 with one year of eligibility left, a mark held by the late Chase Flack.
Robbins has already surpassed 1982 state champion Erik Strawn on the Jefferson-Scranton/Greene County all-time wins list. Strawn won 109 matches during his four year career, becoming a two-time state finalist. Robbins next target is Will Thomsen, a 1994 state champ with Jefferson-Scranton, who won 122 career matches.

    Former Jefferson Herald sports editor Marty Ball is third all-time in Jefferson-Scranton/Greene County history with 129 wins while Travis Forkner secured 144 career victories, good for second all-time.
    Flack finished third at state twice en route to his school record 147 wins from 2007-2011, suffering just 18 losses.

- Robbins is the first three-time state finalist in Jefferson-based school history, doing so at three different weights (106 as a freshman, 120 as a sophomore and 132 as a junior).

- He’s never finished worse than runner-up at state, having tallied 10 state tournament wins

- His 45 wins this year were a career-best after winning 34 matches a year ago and 37 as a freshman.

- Robbins has won at least 34 matches each of his three years as a high school wrestler, never having lost more than four matches in a year

- Robbins was defeated by just three different wrestlers this winter, each one of which won a state title last week. Dowling’s Evan Frost was the Class 3A champion at 132 pounds, Blaine Frazier (beat Robbins twice) was victorious at Class 2A 132 pounds and Underwood’s Gable Porter, the Class 1A 132 pound champion.
    In fact, Robbins has only been defeated by four wrestlers in his three-year high school career. His two losses as a freshman were both against Webster City’s Cam Phetxoumphone, a two-time state champion, once in a regular season tournament and once in the state title match, while Robbins was undefeated last year during his championship run.  

- Robbins’ six career losses have come against athletes who have won five state championships combined.

- Both Robbins and Kale Petersen, who won this year’s Class 2A 120 pound state title, have a chance to become the first two-time state champions in Jefferson-Scranton/Greene County history while they also could be the first duo to both win titles in the same year.  

Robbins will return to the mat next winter more hungry than ever, with plenty of motivation and records to knock out.

“He knows the stakes are even higher,” Beekman said. “If he wants that second title, everything that he does for the next 365 days is going to have to be intentional. We’ll make changes and get him ready, and I know he’ll do that on his end.
Some of it will be mental, some of it will be physical. We just have to keep working at it.”

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