HINSDALE – A year of experience might make a big difference for Justin Maslow.
The Hinsdale South senior was a surprise state wrestling medalist last year in his first trip to the state finals, and now that he’s going back again this year, he has a better idea of what’s in store at state, which started Thursday in Champaign.
“Last year down there I wasn’t really nervous, but it is an experience,” said Maslow, who finished third at 145 pounds at the Hinsdale Central sectional Saturday. “You’ve got 20,000 seats, and they might not be all full but it’s definitely a big tournament that nothing else compares to. So being down there before will help my nerves.”
Maslow was 1-1 in the main bracket at the sectional, but went 4-0 in the backdraw. A narrow 2-1 win in a wrestleback semifinal sealed his state berth, and his 10-4 win in the third place match improved his seeding for state. The fact that Maslow survived perhaps the toughest weight at what was billed as the toughest sectional in the state provided a confidence boost.
“Definitely, I think so,” he said. “Looking at the predictions, I knew I was going to have a tough sectional.
“I’m excited. I like wrestling and I’m happy I can go downstate again. That was my goal – well, I want to place, but you have to make it first, and I’m happy I got out of [the sectional].”
Having state experience also gave Maslow a good idea of the best way to prepare for the rigors of the biggest tournament in the state.
“You only have three days of practice [before state], so maybe you do a little conditioning, but I’m not going to be changing my game up too much,” he said. “What worked [at the sectional] has worked the whole year, and that’s what I’m going to be doing [at state].”
South sophomore Josh King fell in his first sectional match at 220 pounds but won his next three matches, securing his state berth with a pin of Morton’s Kevion Anderson in a wrestleback semifinal. He finished fourth at the sectional and earned his second trip to state.
Senior Nick Perisin (126) also wrestled at the sectional but did not qualify for state.