Hahn keeps his eyes on the prize at state wrestling tournament

Chris Bowie
Boonville Daily News
Boonville junior wrestler Peyton Hahn will be making his third trip to the state tournament on Thursday, March 11 at Cable Dahmer Arena in Independence. Hahn will be one of four No. 1 seeds in the tournament in the 220 pound weight class.

Losing in the finals of the district tournament in the 220 pound weight class to Oak Grove’s Zander Brinegar back on February 13 could have been the best thing to happen to Boonville junior wrestler Peyton Hahn.

While dropping his first match of the season to Brinegar 3-2 to finish second at districts, Hahn admits today that that only fueled him two weeks later at sectionals to come back and beat Brinegar to win the title.

Although there were no guarantees that Hahn would even make it to the finals, the junior grappler left little doubt with a fall in the quarterfinal round  against Maryville’s Zeke Adamson and a 4-0 decision in the semifinals against Cameron’s Wyatt Burnett.

Then, as everybody thought would happen happened, as Brinegar advanced to the championship just like Hahn. 

While Brinegar entered the championship unbeaten in 33 matches, Hahn proved to be the better wrestler this time while recording yet another 4-0 decision for the title.

Boonville Pirates wrestling coach Justin Hahn said his son went the entire tournament without giving up a point, which is extraordinary in itself against some of the best wrestlers in the state.

At 27-1 on the season, Hahn will be looking for a different kind of medal at the state tournament on Thursday, March 11 at Cable Dahmer Arena in Independence.

As one of four No. 1 seeds in his weight class, Hahn drew a bye in the opening round and will wrestle either Deacon Haag of Mexico (26-10) or Kyler Martin of Sullivan (31-8).

Of course Hahn is no stranger to the state tournament. While qualifying as a freshman and finishing third last year as a sophomore, Hahn said his goal this season is obviously to get first and then to place first next year-which would make him the only wrestler in Boonville history to win back to back state titles.

With COVID-19 and a knee injury cutting Hahn’s season short, the junior grappler still managed to surpass the 100 win mark in his career in the match against Southern Boone. Hahn is currently 104-23 in his career. He is also tied for second with 43 wins in a single season along with Kyle Cook and Jon Carr.

Brandt Whitaker holds the single season record for a Boonville wrestler with 49 wins.

With only 12 wrestlers this year compared to 16 in the past, Hahn (Justin) said he feels like Peyton has a good chance to make the finals. 

“He’s still has to wrestle,” Hahn said of his son. “His goal this year is to win it, and that would be unbelievable, because he would have another shot next year. Really it’s right in front of him, and I think he definitely has the fire. Peyton also wants to wrestle at the next level, so he’s hungry to take that next step. I also feel like Peyton has that refuse to lose mentality, which helps.”

But so do 11 other wrestlers, including Brinegar, who would like nothing more than a rematch with Hahn in the finals if the two were to make it through.

However, Hahn first has to get through his quarterfinal match and then possibly face a wrestler from Cassville in Zach Coenen-who was a state medalist last year.

As luck would have it, Hahn (Justin) steered him in the right direction at the young age of 4-5 to wrestle. However, it wasn’t until third grade that Hahn won his first state title. He said he was like 8 or 9 years old.

“I was proud of myself for winning that tournament, but then the year after I made it to state and didn’t place, and then the year after as a fifth grader I made it to state again and advanced all the way to the finals and lost,” Hahn said. “The same thing happened to me as an eighth grader, where I lost one of those heartbreaking matches after having the lead.”

This season with 27 wins and only one loss, Hahn also leads the team in almost every category with 39 takedowns, 16 falls, five decisions, two major decisions, 125 match points and 107 team points. 

Hahn said having his dad in his corner also helps when he’s on the mat. 

“It's actually motivating because you want him to be there and you want to be the best you can be because he's been pushing you,” Hahn said. “It’s like Floyd Mayweather (former boxer). He said the reason his dad is the best coaches because it's his dad. He knows him best. But it’s nice having your dad in your corner because he's going to know what you're going to want to do, and he knows how you want to wrestle.”

Hahn said it’s hard being a dad and a coach because you have to separate the two, but I’m his dad first and his coach second. “It’s an honor coaching him, really,” Hahn said. “But it’s something I love to do and something we love to do together. Wrestling is also our vacations. It’s our family time together. I’m just blessed to be able to do it. I don’t know that I have to really do anything differently. I try to treat him like I treat all the other kids and tell them to go out there and have fun. That’s the main thing.”

Of course losing is no option for Hahn. He knows to get to his goal of standing on the medal stand, he has to take care of business in the quarterfinals and then the semifinals and finally the championship match. 

Although anything can happen at this point, Hahn is ready for anything and everything. He said he knows he will have a bull’s-eye on his back like all of the No. 1 seed, but that doesn’t bother him. 

“I’m just going to go out and wrestle my match and not worry about everybody else,” Hahn said. “I know other wrestlers are going to want to wrestle their best to beat me, but I’m not worried. My goal is to win it all, and that’s what I am going to try to do on Thursday.”