Moments after losing to 14th-ranked Ryan Falslaas on a last-second takedown last Friday night in Iowa City, Minnesota wrestler Damion Hahn sat on the floor of Carver Hawkeye Arena.
He sat away from his teammates, on the far end of the bench, with his head hung in dejection. The eighth-ranked Hahn had just mathematically lost the match for the Gophers. However, he vowed to not let it affect him negatively.
Less than 48 hours later, Hahn returned to the mat, this time against Wisconsin, and bombarded Lee Kraemer en route to a 20-3 technical fall win.
"A lot of people were disappointed with themselves, but me especially," Hahn said of the loss to Iowa. "I take full responsibility for losing that match. That's a lot, but I hold the loss on me the whole way. And it's just going to drive me harder for the Big Tens and NCAAs."
It's this kind of attitude that Hahn has used to get by the last few years. Whether on the mat or with his family, Hahn's personal burdens have not bogged him down.
Following a freshman season where the Lakewood, N.J. native recorded a team-high 10 major decision wins, he was delivered a personal blow. His father, Miles, had kidneys that were failing and would need to be put on dialysis.
"They couldn't believe he was still alive," Hahn said of the doctors who treated his father. "He's a stubborn man and kept putting off going in to see anyone."
Back on the mats, the successful wave continued into last season where Hahn won the Big Ten championship at 184 and added his second All-America honor.
But before any of that happened, another family emergency arose. This time, his father required open heart surgery, a procedure the elder Hahn put off so he could go watch his son wrestle in Virginia on Dec. 8.
He signed himself out of the hospital, drove south to the matches and informed Damion of the triple bypass forthcoming.
"It was crazy," said Damion, who took the train to New Jersey after the matches to be with his family. "They try and assure you that everything on their part will be fine. But once everything is back in, it was up to him to get it working.
"Waiting, it was the longest seven hours of my life."
In case of any problems, it was Damion, not his mother, who was put as the power of attorney for his father's assets. Thankfully, he was never forced to carry out the deed.
The surgery was a success and Damion went back to concentrate on wrestling. But one more time he was faced with a setback.
Late last summer, Hahn woke up one morning back home to a severely swollen right leg. Because part of his father's condition included swelling, he worried and went to the doctor.
While the news wasn't anything to do with his kidneys or his heart, it wasn't good. Hahn had a torn anterior cruciate ligament and a damaged meniscus stemming from an injury in April.
Surgery was imminent, and Hahn was assured he would be back in time for part of this season.
He was in rehab the day after surgery and has made it his personal goal to become a national champion ever since.
"I'm happy that we've won twice as a team, but I want a national title I can stick right up there with them," Hahn said of his roommates, defending national champions Jared Lawrence (141) and Luke Becker (157). "Basically, I know before I go out and wrestle I have to get it in my head that I'm the best."
It's a process that Minnesota assistant coach Marty Morgan knows is possible, but not quite there yet.
In addition to his knee injury, Hahn moved up to 197 this season and was forced to sit out one meet last month for an academic issue.
"He's a little bit behind," Morgan said. "When it comes down to nationals, though, I think Hahn will be ready. He's doing some three-a-days and other stuff above and beyond what we ask the other guys. He responds to everything we say and now he just needs to do it without us telling him to."
Initiative is something Hahn will need to work on. But with his experience in overcoming adversity, it should be no trouble.
Brian Stensaas covers wrestling and welcomes comments at firstname.lastname@example.org
UMN students have traveled to Florida colleges to collaborate with students on various projects.
When UMN students plan for a vacation, having trip cancellation travel insurance is a worthwhile commodity to check out.
Minneapolis Used Cars
Give back to the Minnesota community with a boat donation at boat4causes.org.
If you have been involved in a car accident call a Philadelphia Car Accident Lawyer for a free consultation.