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ATLANTIC CITY -- On the single, center mat under the bright lights of Boardwalk Hall, it's no surprise that a wrestler with the last name Hahn seized the moment to win a New Jersey wrestling state championship.

In the first championship bout of the 2023 NJSIAA Girls Wrestling State Finals, Southern Regional senior Jayla Hahn concluded her fantastic high school career by defeating Jackson Memorial's Kamila Bieszczad, 10-3, to capture the 138-pound NJSIAA state title and become a two-time New Jersey state champion.

"I just kept thinking in the back of my head that nobody can beat me, if I give it my all nobody can beat me," Hahn said. "You have to have that mindset."

After a scoreless first period, Bieszczad chose defense and escaped for a 1-0 lead. Late in the second period, Hahn scored a takedown and put Bieszczad to her back for two near-fall points. The Jackson senior immediately countered with a reversal to close the gap to 4-3 heading into the third period. In the third, Bieszczad was hit for stalling twice, the second of which added another point to Hahn's ledger for a 5-3 advantage. Hahn scored with a reversal to make it 7-3, then added three more back points to close out her career with a state championship and win No. 100.

Robert Badders
Robert Badders

"My freshman year I was here and sophomore and junior year I didn't get to wrestle in A.C.," Hahn said. "I think the whole tournament should have been here, personally, but given that it's my senior year and I got to wrestle my final match here, I'm grateful."

The state tournament was run exclusively at Phillipsburg High School for the past two seasons. This year, every round but the finals were held at Phillipsburg.

"I'm pushing and hoping that next year my sisters can experience the whole tournament here like I did," Hahn said.

The Hahn family now has five NJ state titles to its credit. Jayla's uncle, Damion Hahn is a Shore Conference and New Jersey legend who won three state titles at Lakewood and then two NCAA titles at the University of Minnesota. He is currently the head coach at South Dakota State University. Jayla's last name turned heads during her freshman season. Then her wrestling did the talking.

"There's definitely pressure (being a Hahn) but I feel like the people who support me don't make it in a way that it feels like pressure, it's more encouragement," Hahn said.

Robert Badders
Robert Badders

As a freshman, Hahn wrestled for Central and finished third in the state at 143 pounds. She secured her first state title as a sophomore wrestling for Lakewood and then last season, wrestling again for Central Regional, finished second in the state when she had to injury default in the final. She transferred to Southern for her senior year.

Her wrestling skills were taken to another level inside the Southern Regional wrestling room where she practiced daily with the Rams' Group 5 state championship team.

"It's definitely like no other," Hahn said. "I've wrestled in a lot of different places but that Southern room is very intense. I think if you're able to push through and make it out of that room you can wrestle anywhere."

"She did our strength program in the fall and trained with us every day in the room," said Southern head coach Dan Roy. "Those are intense practices and she's not used to that, on that level, but I felt she had to be up with us. She was the only girl in the varsity room the entire year wrestling with the boys and the coaches."

"We saw a big improvement in her conditioning and the mental aspect of just pushing herself. She's very athletic, she's gifted, and we were able to improve on some of that stuff and raise her level. We kept telling here, doing all these workouts with the boys, no other girl is doing that. You're going to get so much better."

Robert Badders
Robert Badders

What Hahn cherished even more than winning her second state title on Saturday was sharing it with her family. Her sister Jade, a freshman at Donovan Catholic, finished second in the state at 185 pounds. Her grandmother, Betty Hahn, was mat-side for her and her sister's state championship matches. And her grandfather, Miles Hahn, was there in spirit.

"It's really emotional because that's all I've ever thought about, wrestling here with my sister," Hahn said. "I saw my sister work really hard these past few months just to make it here and to be here with her; we only had one opportunity to do it, just one, and the fact we came here and made it happen is all I could have asked for."

"My grandma, she's just really excited, really happy. she keeps talking about how she wishes my grandpa was here to see it and how proud he would be of us," Hahn said. "I wish he was here too, but I keep a picture of him in my headgear so he's always with us."

Miles Hahn, who was a district champion at Howell in 1971, pioneered the wrestling club in the Shore Conference with Team Hammer and coached several state champions, including his son Damion. He passed away in 2006.

Hahn debuted during the inaugural season of girls wrestling state tournament, and four years later she exits as a two-time state champion, a three-time state finalist, a four-time state medalist, and a pioneer of girls wrestling in New Jersey.

"It's amazing," Hahn said. "I love this sport and it means even more to me because I have little sisters coming up. I means a lot to push for the best for all of them."



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