Perhaps the NCAA wrestling tournament’s most incredible story took a huge step forward Friday at the Wells Fargo Center.
Arizona State senior Anthony Robles, born with just one leg, advanced to the 125-pound championship match by defeating Utah Valley senior Ben Kjar in Friday’s semifinals.
Robles, a two-time All-American who placed fourth last year, will take on Iowa’s Matt McDonough Saturday with a national title on the line.
“My mom always told me when I was younger that God made me this way for a reason, and I didn’t understand what that meant,” Robles said at a news conference following the semifinal. “But I think that reason was for wrestling.”
Saturday's match will pit the top two seeds at 133 pounds against each other – Robles is No. 1 and McDonough is No. 2. Both dominated their opponents in the first three rounds, then eked out victories in the semifinals.
As is always the case for Robles’ opponents, McDonough will have to prepare for a unique style.
“Obviously it’s no secret that the way [Robles] wrestles, you got to adjust what you’re doing a little bit,” McDonough said. “But that doesn’t mean you’re adjusting your aggressiveness, you’re adjusting your pressure or anything else.”
Robles will certainly be ready for anything McDonough throws at him.
“I’ve seen the variety of different styles when wrestlers approach me. It’s pretty much been the same since I wrestled in high school,” he said.