QUINCY, IL. (WGEM) -- Quincy Notre Dame's Zach Haley knows all too well the agony of defeat on the state's biggest stage.
Last season's run to Champaign ended with a 4-2 loss to Morrison's Joe Eads in the 138 pound state championship match.
"It's always there," Haley said when discussing the setback.
"If I think about it I don't want that feeling anymore. I want to have that top spot. I want to be on top of the podium."
Now at 145 pounds, Haley, and PORTA's Trey Hild, are on a collision course for the state championship match this weekend.
Haley beat Hild for a regional championship two weeks ago and Hild returned the favor to win last weekend's sectional. It sets up for a potential grudge match in Saturday's state championship.
"He kind of has the upper-hand. Right now we're 1-1. Whoever wins this one is the top dog," Haley said.
"You just got to think that he's another wrestler. He's just in the way of what I want."
One thing is for sure: Haley, who tragically and unexpectedly lost his brother Timothy last spring, has plenty of internal motivation to win a title.
"I'm just trying to (win) for my family," he said. "I think they deserve it and I want to do it for them."
Quincy High School junior Hunter Yohn (160 pounds) is a state qualifier for the first time.
"It's pretty exciting knowing that I'm going to be able to wrestle on that stage around family and friends," Yohn said.
To get to Champaign, Yohn changed his mindset and his off-season workout regimen. He's in better shape physically and mentally he's able to endure the six minute marathon.
"I go in there and look at every single kid the same way I look at another teammate, (or a) random guy on the street, that's my competitor," he said.
"Go hard for six minutes. Don't stop wrestling, that's the goal."
The first match will be the most important. A win and Yohn will likely wrestle the top-ranked individual in the state. But a loss means Yohn's season is likely over.
"He's seen some different environments, and he's watched some college wrestling, and been in those big crowds," QHS head coach Phil Neally explained.
"Hopefully he can adapt to it and hopefully, with the work he's put in throughout the year, he can bring home a medal for us."
Haley opens against Shamier Faulkneer from Chicago Phillips and Yohn will face off against Glenbard North's Anthony Marre in the first round.