Anthony Hinojosa stepped to the scorer’s table on Jan. 7 nervous, but ready to perform.
The Richmond senior 215 pounder wasn’t checking in for a wrestling match against Croswell-Lexington. In fact, he wasn’t even in the lineup that night for the Blue Devils, as he was injured.
On this occasion, Hinojosa was coming for the microphone, to sing the Star Spangled Banner.
“That was the first time I had ever sang in front of more than like 10 people,” he said. “It was definitely nerve-racking. Not just because I was singing in front of them, but that’s the song of the country. Everyone is stopped and completely dead silent. Everyone’s listening to just you, so it’s nerve-racking.”
Since that day, Hinojosa has wowed crowds at Richmond with his rendition of the national anthem several times, singing at basketball games, as well as the home wrestling meets. He’s also back in the lineup, and ranked among the top 16 wrestlers at 215 pounds in Division 3.
Just as it is with getting more time on the mat as a wrestler, each time Hinojosa sings the anthem, he improves.
“Eventually, our AD asked me to sing at the basketball games, so I’ve had more practice to sing,” he said. “I’ve kind of worked myself up, so it’s not so nerve-racking.”
He’s hoping to sing at the Palace of Auburn Hills during the individual state finals on March 6, 7 and 8. He said that multiple referees have told him they would recommend him to the MHSAA, and Richmond coach Brandon Day said athletic director Jim Benoit would see what he could do to make it happen.
“I could wrestle in a singlet and these guys could wrestle in a singlet in front of 15,000 people at the Palace,” Day said. “But ask (Richmond senior and three-time state champion) Devin Skatzka to sing the national anthem in front of 15,000 people, and he might run in the other direction.”
Hinojosa could very well be on the floor anyway, as he’s good enough to make it as a wrestler. He took third this past Saturday at the district tournament, qualifying for the upcoming Division 3 regional, which will be held at Mount Morris. Another top four finish would qualify him for the state meet.
“He was good enough to make the state tournament a year ago, but he ended up losing a close challenge match by a point and didn’t get to go,” Day said. “I think he’s one of the best 215 pounders in the state. (Brad) Harris from Capac is very good, and their last two matches have been two-point matches, and he’s been wrestling all year while Anthony is just getting into stride now.
“I think, and 215 is very tough at our regional, but he’s capable of getting out. And if he gets out, he’s going to place.”
Day said he’s long known about Hinojosa’s love of music, as he would sing on long road trips to camps during the summers. He didn’t realize just how good Hinojosa was, however, until he went to one of his performances.
“His father is awesome; his dad’s got a great voice,” Day said. “So maybe it’s genetic.”
If it isn’t, Hinojosa — who said rock was his preferred genre — has certainly put himself around music enough to acquire things from his father.
“Ever since I was probably about 6, my dad was in a band with his friends,” Hinojosa said. “Nothing big, just like on a weekend go out and play in some bars. Every time he went to practice, he would take me with him, because I always loved music. Around 8, I started teaching myself how to play the drums, then I moved to the bass, because that’s what my dad played. From the bass, I started playing the guitar, then from that, I started learning the piano. But I’ve been singing since I was little.”
His opponents have noticed, as he said he’s been getting compliments in post-match handshakes.
As for what’s more nerve-racking, singing in front of a crowd or stepping to the line to start a match, Hinojosa was a bit torn.
“Obviously the singing is just for me,” he said. “But when you go out on the mat, my team’s depending on me to get six, so I have to try my best for that. It’s pretty close, but definitely wrestling, it’s on more people than just myself, because it’s not about just me.”
Contact Paul Costanzo at (810) 989-6251 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter @PaulCostanzo.