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James Hanley's Two Goals

Updated: Dec 13, 2023

Landon senior James Hanley had two goals entering last Saturday's Mad Mats Invitational Tournament at Magruder.

"My goal was to put it all out there and finish my moves well," said Hanley, a returning Interstate Athletic Conference champion and runner-up at last year's Maryland Independent Schools' State Tournament. "That, along with being able to get in some significant amount of time out there on the mat."

But Hanley was so efficient at the former that he failed to achieve the latter, pinning all three of his 120-pound quarterfinal, semifinal and championship bout rivals in less than a combined less than two minutes. In succession, Hanley registered falls in 30, 38 and 48 seconds, the latter being Magruder sophomore Sava Makarov.

As a result, Hanley won the tournament's award for the most pins in the least amount of time award, his victories totaling one minute 56 seconds.

"I hope I get mat time in every tournament, but that's just the way the cards fall and the way the cookie crumbles sometimes," said Hanley, who will wrestle at Rhode Island's Roger Williams University and major in either Criminal Justice or Forensic Science next season.

"The bottom line is that I went out there with a singular goal in my mind, and that's to put it all out there and to win. This is a stepping stone toward winning IACs, winning states, placing at National Preps and preparing for college."

Hanley was among the Bears' two champions and nine wrestlers who placed within the top four of their weight classes, being joined on the victory podium by junior teammate Tiller Smith (215), who earned his third straight Mad Mats crown with a first-period fall in his championship bout.

Runners-up for the Bears were freshman Dennis Leary (106), junior French Pope (190) and senior Connor Koegel (157), with third-place finishes from sophomore Joe Papalia (126), junior Theo Shockey (132) and senior Michael War (138).

Freshman Domingo Escudero (113) was fourth for the Bears, who were coming off a ninth-place finish at the season-opening Raymond Oliver Invitational McDonogh Tournament won by St. Mary's Ryken of Leonardtown on Dec. 1-2.

Coached by Andy Katz, the Bears finished at 14-2 last year, winning their IAC tournament with eight champions among 12 finalists and placing third at the MIS tournament. A state runner-up last year to Jake Tamai of Mount St. Joseph, Hanley called his state championship loss “kind of a wake-up call for me.”

“I was on a hot streak winning-wise up to that point. It showed me that you’re not going to have blowout victories in every single match, and that there are things you have a lot to work on and focus on, whether it’s positioning, hand-fighting and all aspects of my wrestling,” Hanley said.

“You’re going to have matches where you’re winning close ones, and you have to use those situations to improve. I don’t look at brackets anymore, who the wrestlers are or their Track Wrestling profile. When I step out onto the mat, I’m looking at the opponent in front of me.”

Hanley rebounded after going 4-1 and finishing third at McDonogh, where he pinned one opponent in 89 seconds, blanked another via 15-0 technical fall, and handled a third by 13-3 major decision.

Hanley lost his semifinal at McDonogh by a 4-2 decision to eventual runner-up Henry Gessford of Archbishop Spalding, who is a returning Maryland Interscholastic Athletic Association tournament runner-up and fourth place finisher at states.

"I walked in last weekend not worrying about placement but simply wanting to perform to the best of my abilities and figuring that whatever placement I got was the placement that I had earned. I'm happy with placing third at Ray Oliver," Hanley said.

"There is always going to be a fire under my behind when it comes to the goals that I'm trying to achieve. From here on out, my mindset is that 'I'm the guy here ready to put out 100 percent and you should be worried about me.' I want to put forth that sort of effort whether it's Beast Of The East, IACs, Maryland States, or National Preps."

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