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Robert Henry surprised his father when, in sixth grade, he came home one day and announced he was a member of the wrestling team.

Henry had heard all the stories from when his father was a wrestler and thought he would try it. Six years later, the younger Henry enters his first postseason tournament as one of the favorites.

It’s a position he never thought he’d be in. Well, not immediately anyway.

“Not at first,” he said. “I just enjoyed it.”

Now he’s good at it, too.

He enters Saturday’s Cedar Run District meet as the defending champion at 152. Last year, he gave up only three points in two matches on the way to a district title. A week later, he added a Northwest Region title before losing in the second consolation round at states.

If predictions hold up, Henry would likely face Colonial Forge’s Scott Fisher in regionals and, perhaps, states. The two haven’t wrestled this year, and Fisher won district and regional titles at 145 last year before finishing fifth in states.

But Henry knows that the road to Chesapeake and the state tournament runs through regionals and, first, districts.

“This is my last shot. You don’t want to leave on a bad note, but you don’t want to get over-confident, either,” he said.

Henry’s coaches don’t lack confidence in their top wrestler.

“He’s a captain by name, but he’s a natural leader,” said Panthers head coach Joe Kulmayer. “If I come in late, as long as I leave the room unlocked, he’ll have the team ready to go.”

“He’s definitely the team leader, and he makes the juniors step up to a higher level,” said Potomac coach Liam Burke. “He’s an asset to the team.”

From the outside, things don’t figure to be much different for Henry this season, save for the added experience of being a senior. He’s wrestled at 152 in each of his four years in high school, and Henry was forced to deal with another head coaching change.

But in truth, this season is different for the better. Although he came out of his football season at 170 pounds, Henry got down to 152 and has been able to stay there, even a few pounds under.

That helps increase a wrestler’s energy level, since finding ways to cut a pound here or there isn’t an issue.

“His conditioning’s the best it’s been in four years,” said Kulmayer.

And Kulmayer and Burke have worked with Henry on his technique.

“Each coach that has taught me, they’ve shaped where I am now,” Henry explained. “With all the different coaches, they’ve taught me a little bit of everything.”

At the moment, Henry doesn’t have any specific plans for college, but he said he expects to wrestle on the next level. He added he expects things to become clearer once the season ends.

Until then, Kulmayer and the rest of the Potomac team are happy to have Henry on the mat and, for different reasons, in the wrestling room.

“He takes away his time to work with others,” Kulmayer said. “He can beat anyone on the team, but he tells them to try this move or that move on him.”

The Henry File

Age: 17

Year: Senior

School: Potomac

Weight Class: 152

Family: Father, Robert; Mother, Sheila; Sister, Victoria (13)

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