MORRIS — Senior wrestler Robby Bates improved his record to 34-1 last weekend by winning the 195-pound championship at the Class 2A Rochelle Sectional. Bates recorded two pins and a major decision while going 3-0 at the sectional. He will take part in the state tournament in Champaign this weekend, where he finished sixth last season.
MHN: How has your season been so far?
Bates: I've had a good year. The goal at the beginning of the yaer was to take the state championship and I have had that mindset since the year started.
MHN: How does it feel to have won first at every tournament you've entered this year?
Bates: Pretty good. I got my first first place last year at the regional, but I have won first at all of the tournaments we have been at this year. That has been great, and I want to finish first at the state tournament, too.
MHN: How does your bracket look?
Bates: I have a great draw at the state tournament, but at state, everyone is good. You have to be on top of your game. One wrong move, and you can be on the bottom and it can be over.
MHN: What have you changed this year?
Bates: I have the mindset that I just want to dominate. I would come after football practice in the summer and practice wrestling. I have been really focused. I also have been more aggressive and trying to be more of an offensive wrestler. In the past, I was more of a defensive wrestler and reacting to the other guy. Now, I am forcing the action. I am comfortable doing both.
MHN: And now you want your name up on the wall like Cody Baldrige's as a champion?
Bates: Yes, I do. My sophomore year, I wrestled with Cody in practice every day when he was a senior. I really saw a jump in how much better I was the next year. Wrestling against him made me a better wrestler, for sure.
MHN: Apart from a championship, what is your goal this weekend?
Bates: I want to take it to the guys I wrestle. No matter what, I want to be in control and wrestle my match.