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.
In the second period, Rifanburg was able to keep Robinson on the mat, but never scored a point on the champ as Robinson was able to earn an escape with less than 20 seconds remaining in the period to head into the third with a 7-0 advantage.
Robinson then started the third period on top and looked for a pin, but was unable to get one and Rifanburg was able to scramble, coming up with a reversal for two points.
Robinson appeared to be shaken with about five seconds remaining in the final period, but told his coaches to go back to the corner and then finished out the match and the title.
"When he got on top in second, I had a pretty good lead. I was making sure I didn't give up any points," Robinson said.
After the match, Robinson gave a lot of credit to those he had trained with and learned from.
"I've trained with a lot of good partners and have had some of the best coaches in the state who have trained me and pushed me every day to get me to this point," Robinson said. "Our fans help and they keep me going."
"Arik has been on top of his game since the day he started varsity in eighth grade and took fourth in states," coach Hogan said. "He has great body awareness and he gets ready for matches - he is a great wrestler. In the state semi's, he's pinned in the first period all four years."
Over his five-year varsity career, Robinson has only lost two state matches, both in his eighth-grade year and both against fellow eighth-grader Dakota Stackhouse, who finished third in 2007, beating Robinson - the top seed that year at 96-lbs. - in the first round and the consolation championships.
Since, Stackhouse has dropped wrestling and finished his high school athletic career as a basketball player.
Hogan said that even before then, he knew Robinson was headed for a great career.
"I definitely saw a state champion there. He is so athletic its unbelievable," Hogan said. "When I first noticed him he was in fifth grade in pee wee wrestling. At the time, he only weighed about 55-lbs. In seventh-grade, he only weighed 65-lbs."
After the match, Robinson said that he still feels that his coach and mentor should be ahead of him when it comes to talk of the greatest wrestlers in Section VII history, despite four titles.
"I'm up there, but with his wrestling and his coaching he is still ahead of me," Robinson said. "He is the greatest coach that I have ever had. He has definitely pushed me and helped me get here."
"Arik's definitely the best wrestler Section VII has ever had," Hogan said. "He has beaten 10-12 state finalist in his career. I try not to get involved in all that stuff but someday, I'll go back and count that up."