BELOIT - A defending state finals. A ferocious competitor. A grappler fighting off the flu. And another who's just happy to be there.
That four some of local wrestlers will compete in this week's WIAA State wrestling tournament, with different goals and different backgrounds.
Jackson Hauri of Brodhead-Juda stands the best chance of making noise at the Kohl Center. Hauri was the state runner-up last season, and is one of the favorites this year at 152 pounds.
Hauri carries a record of 38-2 into the Division 2 state tournament, and by virtue of his sectional victory earned a bye in the first round.
He will take on the winner of Jason Bonow of Wisconsin Lutheran and Barron's Tristan Masse.
Hauri's first match will take place at approximately 11:15 a.m. on Friday.
"I feel like I've been wrestling extremely well," Hauri said. "I think I've turned it up a notch in the past few weeks, and I'm feeling great heading into the tournament."
Hauri said he has just one goal: To be standing atop the podium when all is said and done.
"My goal is definitely to win it," Hauri said. "I've done everything I can to prepare myself for this point. I just have to be mentally prepared, wrestle my best match, get a couple of good calls and get lucky. That's a part of it, too."
Beloit Turner's Devon Harbison, known for his ability to bounce back from any sort of adversity, will take the mat on Friday as well after his sectional win at 120 pounds. Harbison (39-7), a junior, will face the winner of Mason Tylee of Amery and Lucas Joniaux of Luxemburg-Casco.
A first-time state qualifier, Harbison said he was elated when he won the sectional at Adams-Friendship.
"The feeling was amazing," Harbison said. "When I won the semifinal match, it was just pure joy. Like I was on cloud nine, because I knew I had qualified for state. Then winning the finals, it topped that feeling even by a little bit more."
Harbison said he's in a good spot entering the tournament.
"I think I got a pretty good draw," Harbison said. "The great thing about getting the bye is that if you win your first match, you guarantee yourself a spot on the podium (top six finisher). I've wrestled three other guys, so I know how I match up with some of the guys up there. I want to come out strong, win that first match and go from there."
Parkview's Korben Brown has had to fight a different type of opponent this week before he even steps onto the mat Thursday evening: The flu.
Brown (30-6), just a sophomore, was forced to miss school on Wednesday because of his illness. It's hardly an ideal spot for the sophomore, who will wrestle Derek Marten of Stratford in his first match Thursday evening.
"I'm pretty pumped, but I'm also still pretty sick right now," Brown said. "Even in the sectional meet, that's when I started to feel pretty sick. I didn't even want to wrestle the final match, but I did anyway. Hopefully I'll feel better when I wake up in the morning."
If Brown does defeat Marten on Thursday, the road get much tougher, immediately. He would face Brock Schlough of Boyceville in the second round. That's undefeated, ranked second in the nation, three-time state champion Brock Schlough.
"Hey, if I face him, I've got nothing to lose," Brown said with a chuckle. "I'll try to stick him with one of the moves that's worked for me all year. You never know what could happen."
Beloit Memorial junior Tyler Sireci is enjoying the ride. Sireci (34-4) will be th first local to take the mat, as he wrestles at 3 p.m. Thursday against Charlie Hooyman of De Pere, who enters the tournament with an impressive 42-3 mark.
"It almost didn't feel real when I knew I advanced," Sireci said. "It was pretty great. I was really happy with the way I wrestled in the first two matches. The finals match, though, I just wasn't in it mentally. I got caught up in looking at rankings and nerves caught up to me. While Sireci is stepping on the mat to win, he's also ready to experience the environment.
"To be completely honest, I want to medal this year and next year, I want to win it," Sireci said. "My coach said I got a pretty good draw. But I'm just happy to be there. I'm pretty healthy right now and I'm going up there to give it my best."