Mark Hall from Apple Valley (Minn.) has been selected as the 2014-15 American Family Insurance ALL-USA Wrestler of the Year.
The selection was made by Jason Bryant of MatTalkOnline.com. Bryant has covered high school, college and Olympic-level wrestling for over 20 years and is the President of the National Wrestling Media Association.
RELATED: ALL-USA Wrestling Third Team
Name: Mark Hall
School: Apple Vally (Minn.)
Weight class: 170
Minnesota’s Mark Hall had a busy summer.
Between stints at the Olympic Training Center in Colorado Springs and trips to Slovakia and Uzbekistan, the high school junior hasn’t had much time to think about anything other than wrestling.
But that’s probably what makes Hall so good. Yes, Hall went 42-0 this season and is a five-time state champion in one of the nation’s toughest states. Next season, he looks to become the first six-time state champion in Minnesota’s proud wrestling history.
Hall has long had Olympic aspirations, and at the Cadet World Championships last summer in Snina, Slovakia, Hall completed the first step toward that journey – he was one of the three freestyle wrestling champions from the U.S.
The other U.S. winners were ALL-USA first-teamer Spencer Lee of Franklin Regional in Murrysville, Pa., and ALL-USA third-teamer Mason Manville, formerly of Blair Academy in Blairstown, N.J. Manville and Hall were teammates at Apple Valley as eighth-graders.
“My ultimate goal in wrestling is to be an Olympic champion,” said Hall. “Unfortunately, wrestling doesn’t have an NFL or NBA, so the Olympics is the absolute pinnacle. It’s something every wrestler dreams of doing.”
While Hall is eyeing six individual state championships, he’s also well aware that he could double up on history.
“This challenge has been sitting in the back of my head for the last five years,” he said. “The individual aspect of a high school wrestling season is a huge part in how far I’ve come, but what a lot of people forget is that I’ve been a part of five state team titles as well. So it’s a big deal and it’s important to look for that sixth individual title, but achieving the sixth team state title will be an amazing feat for me as well. Twelve gold medals is the ultimate record.”
Hall’s talk of Olympic glory might seem ambitious or cliché. How does he stack up? According to USA Wrestling national freestyle and resident coach Brandon Slay, a 2000 Olympic champion, Hall has the potential because he’s willing to learn.
“Mark has spent the last three summers training with Team USA and our National Team coaches at the Olympic Training Center. That summer commitment is really starting to pay off for him,” Slay said. “We need and want more 15- to 18-year-olds like Mark who desire to train with 26-year-old men like (Olympic and World Champion) Jordan Burroughs with the hopes and confidence of becoming Junior World champions and Olympic champions.”
“Mark’s best attributes are his attitude, his coachability and faith,” Slay said. “He is always willing to respectfully listen and learn about wrestling and life.”
And learning is the key for Hall.
“As long as I keep learning and getting better every day, I truly believe I can be ‘the guy’ when the time comes,” he said.
Hall has come a long way from this video shot when he was a seventh grader and soon to be first-time state champion as he approached his 14th birthday: