- Associated Press - Wednesday, February 17, 2016

PELHAM, Ala. (AP) - When it comes to wrestling, Hasaan Hawthorne wants to remain a perfectionist.

The Pelham High School standout enters the AHSAA wrestling championships starting Thursday in Huntsville with a 33-0 record and a burning ambition. The spotless record and motivation are enough to make Hawthorne out of the ordinary.

Having legs that end at the knees hasn’t held him back in the slightest.

“I’ve got to win, got to,” he told the Alabama Media Group (http://bit.ly/1oqb0Yt ) in a story published Wednesday. “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.”

Hasaan, the No. 1 seed in Class 6A at 145 pounds, is hoping to make it to the podium at the Von Braun Center’s Propst Arena and impress some college coaches.

He was born without tibias, the bones that connect the knees and ankles. His fibulas were formed without muscles and nerves.

Hawthorne also developed an early love for sports, and competing. He pleaded with his parents, Demond and Felecia Hawthorne, to play baseball at age 5.

“Like the whole time, I’m thinking, ‘It’s not a good idea, it’s not a good idea,’” Demond Hawthorne said.

Hasaan pitched a few times and even broke his prosthetics sliding into second base for a double to help his team win a regular-season league title a couple of years later. He’s been through some 20 sets of prosthetic legs over the years.

He also competed at swimming and track against physically challenged athletes and took up football too, playing defensive tackle without his prosthetics.

Two of Hasaan’s friends introduced him to wrestling as a sixth-grader.

He drew inspiration from wrestler Anthony Robles, who became a three-time All-American and 2010-11 NCAA champion at Arizona State despite having only one leg.

“I said, ‘Why can’t I do it?’ It just looked cool to me,” said Hasaan, who’s about 6-foot-5 in his prosthetics.

Wrestling took its toll as a 10th-grader when he had surgery to repair a torn labrum in his right shoulder and a second leg amputation, leaving one limb longer than the other.

Hasaan rebounded to finish third at 160 pounds in the state wrestling tournament last year, but is aiming even higher now. Rival-turned-friend Khaliq Jones of Wetumpka believes Hasaan can accomplish much.

“His mindset is right,” said Khaliq Jones, the 6A 160-pound champion last season. “I think he’s ready to be somebody special.”

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