APPLE VALLEY, Minn. (WCCO) — Seventh-grade athletes typically find themselves on junior varsity teams as they try and get a feel for their sport. But there’s a bit of a youth movement at Apple Valley High.
At this suburban high school, a 7th grader isn’t just wrestling varsity, he is currently ranked first in the state at 130 pounds.
For Mark Hall, it’s come easy, to the point that he’s one of the top wrestlers in the state on the top-rated high school team in the nation.
“He’s just a great athlete that feels things, and the sky is the limit for him,” said Coach Jackson. “Hopefully, he stays healthy and makes good decisions and he is going to be a great one.
Last weekend, Apple Valley won The Clash tournament in Rochester, considered the toughest dual meet tournament in the country. Hall was a big part of it.
That is something almost unheard of for a 7th grader. Earlier this year, he defeated a defending state champion from Forest Lake, who is four years older than he is.
“They beat themselves up inside. When they get taken down by a 7th grader, it’s not really helping their pride,” said Hall, who got into wrestling when he was 4 years old because of his older brother, who is now in the Army. “I wanted to be better than him in everything I did. That was what we had growing up and I think I got better than him when I was like 11.”
Now the goal is to become Minnesota’s first-ever six-time state champion. And while he might be a phenom himself, he’s inspired by a teammate who is ending a phenomenal career: four-time state champion Destin McCauley.
“I think he was probably better than I was as a 7th grader. There is not a 7th grader that can be at 130 and be (ranked) first in the state,” said senior McCauley.
At The Clash, McCauley broke the state’s all-time win record of 262. The senior has won state every year, except his sophomore year when he finished second, but he thinks in a few years his new record will be in jeopardy.
“(Hall) has a real bright future. As long as he stays with it the way he is now, his future looks real good,” said McCauley.
For now, it’s all about wrestling hard and getting through Apple Valley’s high intensity practices that sometimes go beyond the mat. But there is no doubt that Hall would love to beat every record his older teammate has set.
“I think if I keep going like the way I’m going, I’ll do it. He will be a five-time and I will be a six-time state champion. So, I’ll get it,” said Hall.
Hall has three losses this year, and all have been close matches.
Hall said he would also like to wrestle in college and be a national champion some day. When his career is over, he would like to be a coach in wrestling or football, another sport in which he excels.