Sure, Hays High senior Da’Vontai Robinson would have loved to be there in person when he was announced as 2020 Indian Call King on Feb. 21.
But Robinson had a pretty good excuse for not being in attendance — competing in the Class 5A regional wrestling tournament in Valley Center.
“I felt bad I wasn’t able to be there, but I was grateful I was able to be nominated and be King,” Robinson said. “My stepmom called me and told me I had won.
“I wasn’t really focused on it, because I was worried about wrestling and stuff like that and being able to place and go to state. But when I found out, I was pretty happy.”
Robinson ended up accomplishing his main objective, finishing fifth at 182 pounds at the regional meet and punching his ticket to the state meet.
Despite being unable to attend, Robinson was not forgotten during Indian Call.
Hays High student Derrick Aragon humorously held up a cardboard cutout with an image of Robinson during the ceremony.
“I don’t know whose idea it was,” Robinson said. “I thought it was incredible. I thought it was hilarious.”
Robinson is looking for a second straight memorable weekend as he gears up for the Class 5A tournament at Hartman Arena in Park City.
Robinson started wrestling just three years ago and has been pleased with his progress.
“When I first started doing it, I didn’t really apply myself to do the best I could in the weight room or wrestling room,” Robinson said. “I just did it because my friends were doing it.
“The last year, I decided ’Man, I love this sport. I need to give it my all.’ ”
He said his dedication to the sport has made for a rewarding experience, on and off the mat.
“I noticed that once I started to give it my all in the wrestling room, I started to see other things changing — my personality was changing, I was changing as a person and felt like I could give it my all in everything else,” he said.
Robinson (24-10) will face Topeka-Seaman’s Blake Smith in the first round.
“It’s going to be a great experience for me,” Robinson said of his first trip to state. “I’m really excited to see what happens.”
Nutting making second straight trip to state
While the state tournament will be something completely new for Robinson, Hays High sophomore Gavin Nutting will look to build off last year’s experience at the state meet.
Nutting went 1-2 at state as a freshman.
“That first match means so much, getting that win, not having to stress about the backside the next day,” Nutting said.
Nutting qualified at 220 pounds after taking fourth at regionals. He enters the tournament with a 32-9 mark.
“I really focused on my neutral game and being able to get my takedowns (this season),” Nutting said
He will open the tournament with a first-round match against Seaman’s Ezra Shove.
“The atmosphere at Hartman is just crazy, with 6A and 5A being there,” Nutting said. “It makes you so excited.
“I’m ecstatic. This is what we’ve been working for all season.”