Two members of the 2015-16 American Family Insurance ALL-USA Wrestling Teams won gold medals at the Junior World Championships this weekend in Macon, France.
Two-time ALL-USA Wrestler of the Year Mark Hall from Apple Valley, Minn., won the 74 kg/163-pound weight class and Lee, a two-time ALL-USA selection from Franklin Regional in Murrysville, Pa., repeated at 50 kg/110 pounds and won his third consecutive world title overall.
It is the first time the U.S. has won two Junior World gold medals in men’s freestyle since Stephen Abas and Donny Pritzlaf in 1998, according to USA Wrestling.
Hall, who is heading to Penn State after a summer that saw him compete in the U.S. Olympic Trials, won the world title with a decisive 10-0 victory against 2016 Junior Asian champion Ahmad Bazrighaleh of Iran. Hall used a quick takedown on a single leg and then four leg laces to end the bout.
Hall was the first high schooler to win 12 state titles in Minnesota — six individual titles and six team titles.
Hall adds Junior World champion to a resume that already included 2014 Cadet World champion, three-time age-group World Team member, three-time USAW Cadet Nationals champion and six-time high school state champion. His resume also includes a 2014 Cadet world title, three Cadet national titles and three appearances on the World Team.
“After last year, that feeling’s been in my heart for a while, and this just takes it and crushes that feeling I had last year,” Hall said. “That’s the first time I’ve ever had tears of joy.
“It feels good, and it helps me know that I have step that I’m on now, and I’ve just got to keep climbing the others. This is big, but there are bigger and better things that I can get to.”
In the final against Kyrgyzstan’s Khurshid Parpiev, Lee, an Iowa commit, trailed 4-0 early and then 8-3 before posting eight consecutive points for a dramatic 11-9 victory.
“I just overcame a lot,” said, Lee, who will be vying to win a fourth consecutive Pa. state titles this winter. “I felt like he was just very counter offensive. I’m getting in places where I’m normally comfortable, and next thing you know it I’m giving up exposure points and four’s. I didn’t know what to do. I just kept wrestling.”