Avante Henley is a senior at Mt. Pleasant High School and a member of the Panther wrestling team. Henley usually wrestles at 138 lbs. or 132 lbs.
Henley has also been a member of the Panther track and field and football teams. He has recently come back into the Mt. Pleasant school district after a short time away.
Henley met with The News on Wednesday after school. The questions are in bold with his answers following.
Did you grow up in Mt. Pleasant? I’ve been in Mt. Pleasant since third grade.
Where did you move here form? Georgia. It was a big change at first, but being that young, I was easily able to get into the groove of things. Then it wasn’t a problem.
How long have you been wrestling? Seventh grade.
What got you into it? A friend of mine. He was a good middle school friend, and he was moving that same year. I told him if he ever moved, I’d try wrestling and see how I like it. He ended up moving to Nebraska, and ever since then I’ve been wrestling. Now that I’m older, I stopped wrestling for him, and it’s more for me now.
Do you have plans for after high school? After high school I play on attending the University of Iowa. Moving on from there, I want to go major in physical therapy. That will be my plan, and then see what happens. I’m pretty sure I’m on a good path.
Can you tell me a bit about how nice it feels to be back in MP and with the team? When I left it crushed me, because I knew I had a great chance of going to state. Mid-summer I made up my mind that I’m just going to get at it, and whenever I can come back home, I’ll come back healthy and strong. I came back in early August, right on time. It was just a joy to be back and see all the faces again.
What is your preparation like before a meet? When I wake up, I know it’s meet day. It’s time to go. Throughout the school day I’m just trying to get by. I’ve got that little energy bunny inside of me jumping around, ready to get loose. I’m just itching to get on the mat. And then by the time school is over, I’m just psyching myself up and getting ready. As soon as the weigh in goes, it’s game time.
Would you rather be one of the first couple matches or toward the end? Either or, doesn’t really matter. I do enjoy watching my teammates go first , see how good they are and cheer them on. But at the same time, it’s kind of hard for me to also focus on them while I try and get prepared myself, so I kind of have that problem. It’s nice to get it out early and get it out of the way.
What is a word or phrase that Coach Blint says to you the most often? To me personally, he always says, “Just go slow.” I’m always fast, and I’m sometimes out of control when I go fast, so he says, “take your time and go slow, and just relax.” Sometimes I try and go 100 rounds per hour and just crash real fast, but he’s able to keep me down and keep me level headed.
What is your strategy to cut weight? This year has been the best year for my cutting weight. I cut real early, so going into wrestling I wasn’t like, dead or anything, or tired. Once I get down to that weight, it’s really easy to contain it. It’s not as bad as it seems. People freak out, but it’s not that bad. I personally don’t eat as much to fill up. I just eat to get the nutrients.
Where do you go the day after wrestling season ends and you don’t have to watch your weight anymore? A couple years back, the whole team went to Mt. Hamill, and that was a blast. We had a really good time.
Just pig out? Yeah, just pig out. And then sometimes when it’s close to Christmas break and we have an X amount of days without wrestling, we go to like … this year we plan on going to buffalo wild wings. A year ago we went to pizza ranch and just had like 20 plates full of pizza and chicken. It’s just awesome.
When you’re not at school or practice, what can we find you doing? Work. Really all my time is here in the community and at the school. If I’m not wrestling or doing school work, I have show choir, band and stuff like that other than wrestling and sports. Just staying active.
You can hang out with one celebrity for a whole day, who do you choose? Does a celebrity have to be a real person, or could it be fictional?
It could be fictional, sure. Well, I’d like to say Batman. I mean, it’s Batman, come on.
It’s like the coolest person ever. Yeah, coolest person ever. But also, Captain America, because that leadership. That would be awesome hearing him talk, and his way of thinking about life.
What would you guys do? We’d probably go exercise and lift, and I would just see how much he can do, and we could push each other.
I bet you probably couldn’t spot him though. Yeah, I’d probably just watch him and let him do his thing.
What if you could have one super power? Speed. Gotta be speed. If you can run fast enough you can pretty much be everywhere at the same time, so that’s my philosophy about it.
Do you have any nicknames? Tons, actually. My favorite is Von, or Von-Von. That’s the main one. Sometimes my friends call me … depending on what I’m wearing. I had this yellow jump suit for track, and they’d call me a banana or something like that. But Von-Von is the main one.
In your time at Mt. Pleasant, who has been your fvorite teacher? Mrs. Kohorst is up top. I don’t have her in class anymore, but just her as a person. She’s a wonderful person, and she’s been good to me. Mrs. DePriest, she’s always checking up on me, and my health, and how much weight I’m cutting. She’s just a mom to me, so she’s a joy to have. Those two are my top.
Do you have any shout outs? I’ll shout out to James DeMeyer. Hopefully this will be the year he gets it. These past couple years, he’s been our best wrestler on the team, and to come up short is really tough. Hopefully this year since I’m back, he’ll be able to get over the hump. I’m just really hopeful that he’ll get there, to the promise land.
Panther Profile is a series of interviews with Mt. Pleasant athletes currently in season. This season will focus on members of the Panther basketball, bowling and wrestling teams.