Justin Hasley is planning to extend his stay at the 2012 OHSAA State Wrestling Tournament at the Jerome Schottenstein Center on the campus of The Ohio State University in Columbus.
In fact, if things fall into place, Marietta High's 160-pound senior (29-4) grappler is hoping to be at the Ohio Division II event, which starts today at 4:15 p.m., all three days.
And, if Hasley wins today and then Friday, he'll automatically earn All-Ohio honors as one of the top eight wrestlers in the state.
Times file photo
Marietta High state qualifier Justin Hasley practices with a teammate.
If that does occur, Hasley will become the fourth MHS grappler to place at state in the history of the wrestling program. Bill Heldman is a two-time state placer. Jeff Hansis and the late Levi Weppler also placed at state.
No Tiger wrestler has ever won it all.
But first things first, and as always, it's one match at a time.
Last year, Hasley was also a state qualifier (41-12) in the same weight class and went two and out. One day of competition was way too short a time to be on the biggest prep wrestling stage in the Buckeye State.
Perhaps ironically, Hasley lost both of his 2011 state matches by identical 6-1 decisions. He was beaten by Beloit West Branch's Adam Lamancusa in an opening bout and then exited after a consolation round loss to Medina Highland's Adam Kluk.
"Both were tough matches," recalled MHS wrestling coach Jeff Walker. "We're hoping, though, this year will be a different story."
Talk about being in a mat rut. But it was a good learning experience nonetheless in his debut at state.
When Hasley was a freshman, he was fifth in district and one placement away from going to state. As a sophomore, he broke his hand.
After last season, Hasley is one year wiser, and hopefully better - and healthier than he's ever been.
For much of his prep career, he's been battling injuries that have kept him off the mat.
Thing is, though, during the past winter campaign, Hasley has thrived on the adversity, and was still able to notch career win No. 100 at the Cambridge Invitational on Dec. 3, 2011. That takes a lot of dedication and heart, not to mention toughness, to accomplish a milestone of that nature.
"Right now, Justin is back in full, fighting form," Walker said. "He's ready to go at state."
After capturing first place at the Ohio Division II Athens sectional meet, Hasley followed that up with a runner-up finish in this past Saturday's district event in Goshen.
At district, Hasley pinned Monroe's Chris Wilson in a quarterfinal bout. Then, the Tiger grappler earned another fall against Wilmington's Michael Burge in the semis.
Hasley was on a roll, but it came to an end in the finals when he dropped a close 7-5 decision to Hillsboro's Kordell Ford.
"It went down to the wire," Walker said, "and really could have gone either way."
A district championship would've been nice for the MHS senior, but he was still going to state where a placement in the top eight or an outright title would be even nicer.
And, it begins today at 4:15 p.m. when Hasley faces Ravenna Southeast senior and district third-placer Tylor Brokaw (34-11) in his opening match. That winner will advance and be pitted against the Dixon Johnson/Scott Boyce winner in bout No. 2.
"We don't know too much about Brokaw, but if Justin beats him, we think he will be facing Boyce, who he has wrestled and dropped a decision to before," Walker said.
Also competing on the opening day of the Division II state wrestling tournament will be Warren junior Cory Parsons (106 pounds), Morgan senior Dirk Ponchak (152), and Morgan senior Patrick Sheets (182).
Parsons, a 100-plus career mat winner with a 42-7 overall mark this past winter, was a sectional champion and a district fourth-place finisher.
Last year at district, Parsons was runner-up in the 103-pound weight class.
The talented Warrior grappler is no stranger to state competition.
Last season as a sophomore (36-5), Parsons, like Hasley, was two and done at state, dropping a 10-9 decision to Clyde's Beau Minnick and a 7-1 count to Columbus DeSales' Payton Guterriez.
"Both were pretty close decisions," recalled Warren wrestling coach Neil Brague.
Today, Parsons is slated to open up state mat play against freshman and regional champion Eli Stickley (32-10) of St. Paris Graham Local.
That winner will face either Mantua Crestwood's Jake Zemaitis or Steubenville's Devin Brown in match No. 2.
"Stickley was ranked 11th in the Brakeman Report," Brague said. "So he's definitely good."
But then, so is Parsons, who will have a little edge, experience-wise.
Ponchak, a senior with a 45-6 record and a third-place finish at district, is scheduled to wrestle Tiffin Columbian sophomore and regional runner-up Seth Williams (45-3). And, Sheets, also a senior with a 38-6 mark and third-place finish at district, will be pitted against Gallia Academy senior and regional runner-up Zack Tackett (42-6).