Robert Avila Jr.,Iowa City West
I remember when the news initially hit the Iowa HS wrestling community that an elite Nevada Freshman named Robert Avila was moving to Lisbon and would occupy a weight in the 120-132 lb. range, the big debate was, “yeah ok, he was good in Nevada, but can he do it here (Iowa)?” He has since won 3 state championship and has gone 52-1, 45-0 and 34-0 in his first 3 seasons for a career record of 131-1. He is also able to routinely pull off all sorts of various acrobatics in his matches that puts his extreme athleticism on display. He looks like Liu Kang from Mortal Kombat out there when he wrestles with the somersaults that he will execute mid-motion to give himself a better angle or position to work his offense. The state of Iowa has never seen anything quite like him. He is 100% unique.
Robert is actually undefeated in his career in Iowa competition. His one loss was against Travis Ford-Melton from Chicago, IL when he was a Freshman. In his HS career so far, he has pulled off huge wins over fellow state champions; Hunter Garvin from IC West, Caleb Rathjen from Ankeny, Hayden Taylor from Solon, Aiden Riggins from W-SR, Joe Pins from Dubuque Hempstead, among others, I’m sure. All of those guys have been successful not only at the state level, but the national level.
As a Junior last year, Avila went 34-0 with 27 pins, 2 technical falls, 2 major decisions and 2 decisions. His falls were quick… 22 out of 27 of them were called in the first period. 11 of these were in the first minute, including one fall in :07 and another in :11.
Simply put, he’s one of the best wrestlers I’ve ever witnessed go through the Iowa HS wrestling scene. A GOAT article on him in the future is pretty much a certainty. The kid is absolutely the real deal. The “can this Nevada kid roll with the big boys in Iowa” debate should be squashed by now and if anything, we could probably learn a few things from the coaches in Nevada and California who helped him get to the level he was at before moving to Iowa, in which Iowa is where his skill-set has been polished and fine-tuned.
If you are wondering if Robert is a guy who can compete at the D1 level, without listing names or locations, I will say this: There is a person who I trust 100% of what they tell me. This person was at a camp over the summer in which Avila was in attendance. Avila was working out with a guy who graduated college as a multi-D1 NCAA AA who may have won it in 2020 had COVID not ruined everything. Avila put this guy on his back…. It was the summer after his Junior season, and Avila put one of the best collegiate wrestlers to his back. That normally doesn’t happen with the average elite recruit freshman. Usually it takes a few weeks to months of being in a college room before they are able to do something like that. Goes to show you how much potential Robert Avila Jr. has.
And on top of all the accolades, he is an incredibly impressive person off the mat. I’ve gotten to know him a bit the past year or so and you couldn’t ask for a more friendly, polite and unassuming person who respects everyone and tries to see the best in people of all walks of life. He’s also a fantastic, eloquent writer.
Meet one of the best HS wrestlers in the state, Robert Avila Jr!
PINDOX: When did you start wrestling? Who introduced you to the sport?
ROBERT AVILA: I believe I started when I was 3. Grandfather wrestled back in the day and his sons wrestled when they were in HS and I was much younger, so I was around it at a young age. My parents kind of just let me have at it.
PINDOX: Did you catch on to wrestling quickly or was it a gradual process?
ROBERT AVILA: I think I caught in pretty quick. Wrestling in general is a process, there’s always something to learn. Nobody ever knows absolutely everything, but as far as a learning standpoint, I kind of got the hang out it pretty quick and it all just felt almost natural to me.
PINDOX: What club did you wrestle for growing up and how would you describe your experience with the club?
ROBERT AVILA: Oh man there is a LOT of, not necessarily clubs that I wrestled for, but that I trained with so I’ll name a couple. Pounders WC is pretty much where I started (shout out to Eddie and Camilo) and I mean there will never be anything like what we had going on in there. You can ask anybody you want that was in that room and they would tell you how awesome it was. I can give a HUGE list of great wrestlers that wrestled there and trained some point in their careers and send it over sometime. Imo, there was never a better room. Coach/Athlete relationships were great. And the brotherhood we had and the friendships the majority of us kept all these years was and is irreplaceable. In California, I Would go to some high school club practices in Alto Loma, Sultana, Victorville, wherever I could get a practice in. In Vegas, I started off with Green Valley, which that club kinda moved on, separated, and became Slam Wrestling Academy. I would go to many high school practices there as well. Las Vegas HS, Western HS, Valley HS, Bishop Gorman, again wherever I could just get a practice in.
PINDOX: How did you finish at state tournaments in youth?
ROBERT AVILA: Kind of all over the place. Really not sure how I did in California, I remember some specific matchups but not end results of tournaments. When I moved to Nevada, I did Farley well. Won a few times when I was younger then moved back to Cali where I don’t think I really competed at state for a few years, but then when I went back to Vegas, I know I Triple-Crowned at least twice and had a few other individual style titles as well…I know I placed in all of them I wrestled in for sure. Then obviously I moved here my 8th grade year
PINDOX: How did you finish at the state tournaments you wrestled in at the HS level to this point?
ROBERT AVILA: Freshman- 1st (126lbs)
Sophomore- 1st (132lbs)
Junior- 1st (145lbs)
PINDOX: Who were your wrestling heroes growing up?
ROBERT AVILA: Only one mind really comes to mind. And that would be Brent Metcalf. I was literally his biggest fan when I was younger watching him and the rest of the Hawkeyes compete. Fun fact: he was actually kind of the reason I began to like Iowa wrestling. I remember going to a tournament in Vegas with my uncle just to see specifically him wrestle. Got a singlet and a couple other things signed by him and I had an absolute blast watching him in person. I was also blown away by the fact that he was coaching cadet duals when I first moved out here and he was like my “chaperone” in 8th grade and coached me for the week. I did miss weight for one of the styles so obviously that was ridiculous of me and pretty embarrassing, lol (especially being my first time missing weight) but it was like the coolest thing ever when I realized he was gonna be coaching me literally right after I had moved into the state and him being the main reason why I loved the state of Iowa in the first place.
PINDOX: Who have been some of your toughest competitors in HS to this point in your career?
ROBERT AVILA: I’ve wrestled a lot of good and great kids lol. Can’t really name a couple because then I’d have to name them all and I don’t want to miss any. However, I have mad respect for all of them.
PINDOX: What was your most memorable state tournament?
ROBERT AVILA: Obviously I’m not at Lisbon anymore but one of the coolest moments as far as a team was the dual against Bosco in the state dual finals my sophomore year. I believe we were down 21 -0 right out the gate. We then took the next 5 matches and the score was 21-18, if I’m not mistaken. We dropped a match and were down 24-18 going into my match so I definitely needed the fall for us to have a little cushion. Definitely needed bonus points. We were lookin for a fall in hopes that Cael Happel would follow with one as well and we’d keep the train rolling into Marshall Hauck’s match and leave it up to him. I didn’t even have the major yet (believe it was only like a 5 point lead. 8-3 or something) going into the 3rd. I knew I had to at least get the major and once I had that locked up with about a minute left, I put the foot on the gas and had to go for the tech and ended up putting him in his back with like 10 seconds left and it was like 18-8. I knew with the near fall I had the tech locked up for sure at least, and somehow I was able to flatten him out and the ref called the pin with 1 second left. Cael followed my match with a pin then we got pinned. 30-30 going into the final match and of course Marshall locked it up and got the fall.
Probably One of the greatest duals ever. And to follow that, got the dub on Saturday night. I believe we went 4 for 5 in the finals. Not sure if all those stats/numbers are correct so someone could fact check that, lol.
PINDOX: What are your wrestling goals for this coming season?
ROBERT AVILA: Completely Dominate whoever I wrestle.
PINDOX: How would you describe your wrestling style? Who would you compare yourself to?
ROBERT AVILA: A mixture of everything. The only person I could compare it to is myself really. Bits and pieces of a lot of different wrestlers/coaches technique(s) that I’ve mixed into my own way of wrestling… I’d consider it unique.
PINDOX: Do you have any regrets from wrestling that you want to make up for as a Senior?
ROBERT AVILA: No.
PINDOX: What other sports do you play and how have you done at them?
ROBERT AVILA: I’ve played soccer my freshman year…did fairly well. Season got canceled sophomore year and didn’t get to play last summer had a lot going on. Most likely will be going out this year, maybe tennis instead though. I will have to decide later. Football was like “whatever.” Felt the same with baseball. Football is kind of boring to me. I do love baseball though.
PINDOX: What are some of your hobbies besides wrestling?
ROBERT AVILA: Anything outdoors or just messing around with the boys. I do enjoy playing all different types of sports for fun
PINDOX: What is some of the best advice you ever received?
ROBERT AVILA: “Congrats you won a Tulsa title a couple days ago over the weekend. But this is today, that crap doesn’t matter anymore. That’s old news, now we go to the next thing which is this practice today” -Eddie Aguirre
PINDOX: Do you have any advice for up and coming wrestlers?
ROBERT AVILA: Just do you. If someone tells you you can’t do a technique a certain way and that it doesn’t work that way, always test it out before throwing it out the window because it might actually work for you. A lot of techniques I come up with are based off of proving people wrong…probably not a good thing to let pride get in the way but it is a good thing to kinda trial and error
PINDOX: What is your favorite style of wrestling? Folkstyle, Freestyle or Greco?
ROBERT AVILA: Folkstyle>Greco>freestyle (freestyle is awful).
PINDOX: What are your college plans? Is wrestling in your future whether it be competing or coaching? Do you have interest in MMA?
ROBERT AVILA: Most likely going to study business. (Undecided college). I plan on wrestling until I’m old and can’t get out of my couch one day…even then I’ll have someone come get me And take me to practice. I have a very high interest competing in mostly all professional fighting types in the future whether that may be boxing, kickboxing or MMA.