Hasaaan Hawthorne won his semifinal match over Arab senior Javon Cortez 9 -4 to reach Saturday’s 145-pound 6A final.
Now 36-0, he will face Southside-Gadsden’s Landon Thompson (53-2). Thompson was the runner-up in the state at 132 pounds last season.
Hawthorne placed third at 160 last season.
Hasaan Hawthorne may be America’s least likely undefeated high school wrestler. With two more victories, he could be its least likely state champion.
As chronicled in a terrific feature by Al.com, Hawthorne was born without tibias in his legs. His fibulas formed without muscles and nerves, which led to two different amputations — the first before he was three months old — and left Hawthorne with nothing below his knees. He walks on man-made limbs attached to his “nubs”, and wrestles with nothing below the remnants of his lower limbs.
Despite the obvious disadvantage that presents, the Pelham High senior finds himself in the final throes of a season for the ages. He entered the Alabama High School Athletic Association state wrestling Championships with a record of 33-0 in the 145 pound division. On Thursday he cruised through the quarterfinals (you can see part of his quarterfinal victory directly below), getting him within two victories of his ultimate goal: A state title and spot in the state record books, for good. For his part, Hawthrone is convinced a victorious campaign could help earn attention from college coaches and help him land a spot on a collegiate squad.
“I’ve got to win, got to,” Hawthorne told AL.com. “I don’t think I’ve made a name for myself on the national level yet… I still feel like I have unfinished business to do.”
Based on what he has already accomplished, it feels safe to say that Hawthorne has made a name for himself on the national stage of USA TODAY and elsewhere. He just wants to do it on his own terms, just as he approaches all the other challenges in his life.
“If everybody gave their heart and desire into doing what they want to do like he does, they’d be a lot more athletes out there that are phenomenal,” said Scott Verner, his former youth coach. “He does more with his heart and desire than anything else.”