Iowa in the mix for top-ranked wrestling recruit Mark Hall
There was little more Mark Hall needed to do to cement his status as the nation's most-coveted wrestling recruit.
But he didn't win a Cadet world championship and five Minnesota state high school titles by sitting on a lead, either.
So given another opportunity last week to impress Iowa coach Tom Brands, Penn State's Cael Sanderson and the dozens of others who would like to secure his signature on a national letter of intent this November, Hall added to his already immaculate resume with a two-match performance highlighted in bold letters.
Less than an hour after dismantling Chance Marsteller in the best-of-three championship series at the Junior World Team Trials, Hall dropped a trail of hints to indicate where his college career could unfold.
"I don't have any specifics quite yet, but it's for sure staying in the Midwest," he said. "I want to stay in the Big Ten. It's the toughest wrestling conference, so if I can go to the Big Ten that'll help me in the long run."
Hall said he currently has "about seven or eight" programs in mind. He plans to unveil on social media the list of five schools he intends to visit this fall.
Asked if Iowa will make the cut, Hall smiled and nodded.
"When you watch (the Hawkeyes) wrestle, there's hardly ever a time when they're not ready," Hall said. "Some teams are slow to get going, but those Iowa guys all think they can win. That's important. That's really cool to see."
Hall grew up in Davison, Mich., where the late Chase Metcalf and his younger, brother, Brent — who eventually won two NCAA titles for the Hawkeyes and still trains in Iowa City — served as two of his first wrestling mentors.
In junior high, he moved to Minnesota to wrestle for national power Apple Valley High School. Hall won his first Minnesota varsity state championship as a 130-pound seventh-grader. He's been victorious in 223 of his 227 prep bouts and he'll aim next season to become the state's first six-time champion.
"I think he will be one of the most-pursued student-athletes in recent history," said USA Wrestling freestyle developmental coach Bill Zadick, a 1995 NCAA champion for the Hawkeyes. "Why would you not want Mark Hall? He's a great student, he's a great human being, he's a great wrestler and he's only going to bring more and better culture to any program he comes into."
Hall's latest performance demonstrated why he's the consensus No. 1 prospect in the 2016 class. He registered a 28-second technical fall and a pin in the 163-pound championship series against Marsteller, an Oklahoma State freshman who ripped through the Pennsylvania high school ranks without a loss.
"You can talk about technique and physical ability," Zadick said. "(Hall) has uncanny balance and feel and body position. But he's a competitor. He has a never-say-die attitude, so he continues to wrestle when most people feel like the flurry's over; Mark's still wrestling. That makes him a very dangerous person."