Last spring, Jackson Hauri went looking for a new test.
He had just wrapped up a state runner-up finish at the WIAA state wrestling tournament. He had played baseball in the past, but he was looking to wrap up his junior year at Brodhead High by going a whole new direction.
“I was ready for change,” Hauri said. “One day at practice, my coach was like, ‘Go jump over that!’”
Suddenly, Hauri was a hurdler.
A track and field superstar he is not; he finished in the middle of the pack at the regional meet. But that story is just one example of Hauri’s fearlessness in taking on challenges.
He moved up to the No. 1 spot in the latest Division 2 state rankings at 152 pounds this week. His only loss this season was to an out-of-state wrestler.
All signs seem to be pointing to another deep run for Hauri in his most passionate sport. And with the high school wrestling season ramping up, he’s not shying away from what lies ahead.
“I ended last year (in the regular season) at the top of the rankings, and when they came out this year I was obviously hoping for it,” Hauri said. “I’ve always been told and always thought that they don’t mean anything. You still have to go prove you’re the best. I definitely want to go out and prove it.
“I’m not running from anyone.”
That’s also the mentality Hauri brings to the mat, he said. He’s looking to be the aggressor and score points from the very first whistle.
“I want to go out and dominate and score as many points as I can,” he said. “I always like to get the first couple takedowns and go out and run my stuff.”
That’s been a successful plan throughout his wrestling career, where he’s eyeing a fourth straight trip to the state tournament.
Wrestling out of Orfordville Parkview as a freshman, Hauri finished on the podium in fifth place in the Division 3 106-pound bracket. That was three years after his brother, Alex, finished second at state for Parkview.
“I definitely looked up to him,” said Jackson, who said his father passed a love of wrestling on to his sons at a young age. “I was in middle school when he was finishing high school up. Even after he graduated, what he did I definitely used it as trying to one-up my brother.”
A first-round loss knocked Jackson Hauri from the 132-pound bracket as a sophomore after he transferred to Brodhead/Juda.
But he matched his brother’s 2013 feat a year ago. At 152 pounds, he advanced to the D2 championship match for a third meeting with Evansville/Albany’s Nolan Kicmol. The two had split two earlier meetings, and Kicmol, a senior, won 10-2 in the rubber match.
“I definitely think about it a lot and use it as a driving factor,” Hauri said of the state-final match. “I would like to, obviously, one-up it. I’m just going to try my hardest.
“It used to be (the only thing on my mind), but I’m starting to look at it as it was good experience, and hopefully this year I can change it.”
Brodhead/Juda coach Bill Davis said he’s attempting to help Hauri achieve his lofty goals but also keep things in perspective.
“We’ve talked about it, and the goal of course is to try to be a state champion, but we don’t push it too hard,” Davis said. “It’s tough to do. It’s tough to repeat, tough to get there.
“When you get there, it’s about having a good tournament. Our biggest goal is to get on the podium and then see how things go.”
Davis said he felt Hauri had a really good tournament at the Kohl Center and a great season a year ago, when he finished 33-3.
This year, they’ve been pushing conditioning in Hauri’s training.
“Instead of being in the middle of the pack running, once in a while he’ll go to the front of the pack and some of those things,” Davis said. “Understanding conditioning can really make you a better wrestler, and that’s something he’s really been working on.”
Hauri ran his season record to 17-1 by winning the Lancaster Invite on Saturday.
The Rock Valley Conference duals are next weekend, and the Cardinals also wrestle in a tournament in Deerfield later this month. That’s all leading up to a postseason that Hauri hopes ends with another deep run at the Kohl Center.
“My body is beat up, that’s for sure. But in my mind, I’m definitely ready for the end of the season,” he said. “I don’t want it to end, but that’s the fun part of the season, so I’m looking forward to it.”