Earl Hall wrestled in the first Beauty and the Beast of the year, Friday, Jan. 6, 2017. Photo by Lani Tons
Earlier this season, Iowa State’s senior 133-pound wrestler Earl Hall lost to a freshman. Last Saturday against North Carolina, Hall was set to take on another freshman in Nicholas Lirette.
When Hall took the mat in Chapel Hill, he had two things on his mind: set the tone for the meet and send a message to the rest of the country. He accomplished both tasks.
Although Iowa State lost as a team, 17-20 to North Carolina, Hall tech falled Lirette, 18-2, in the first period. The Homestead, Fla. product scored three takedowns and three four-point near falls in two minutes.
“We saw the best of Earl Hall,” Iowa State coach Kevin Jackson. “I mean, when that Earl Hall shows up he is going to be very difficult to beat. He did everything we’ve talked about. That our fans and we haven’t seen yet this year. He got some upper body situations going, he got some leg attacks going, he got some counter offense going. He rode and turned. He did all the things that we knew he was capable of.”
Earlier this season, Hall wasn’t performing like the former All-American he is. He was just going through the motions. At one point, Jackson stated Hall was getting out performed by some of the freshmen on the roster.
All of that changed for Hall when the Cyclones partook in the Midland Championships in December. Hall went 3-0 on the first day after coming behind in two of his matches. Hall made it all the way to the third place 133-match, where he took on South Dakota State’s Seth Gross. Unlike his previous matches, Hall was unable to connect to any of his offense. Hall fell to Gross, 13-1.
“Once he lost that match at the Midlands, I was really happy with how he came back from that,” Jackson said. “During that Midlands tournament he flipped the switch. He just has to keep that switch flipped on.”
Since the Midlands, Hall has scored a combine 32 points in two meets: Arizona State and North Carolina. Hall credits his newfound scoring resurgence to two things: feeling better and regaining his confidence.
“I am not one to make excuses like I was feeling bad and things like that,” Hall said. “Because no cares at the end of day if you are sick or how you feel. Because Kevin Jackson was at the Olympics and he had the flu. If he could do and Michael Jordan can play in a full game with the flu, why can’t I wrestle for seven minutes?”
Hall’s cold was much more than your typical cold. It was pneumonia.
During practice one day, coaches told Hall that he had to wrestle for 15 minutes straight. Within two minutes, Hall was tired.
“I had no idea,” Hall said on wrestling with pneumonia. “But I talked to the coaches and went to the trainer and they diagnosed it. I got it taken care of. I obviously I feel a lot better now. Leaving the first half behind me and keep moving forward.”
Since getting treatment, Jackson has now noticed Hall connecting to his offense more often and effectively. According to Jackson, Hall is getting after scores and points. Hall is looking more and more like the former All-American he is.
Iowa State and Hall are on the final stretch till March, which is when the NCAA Championships are held. Hall needs to wrestle his best if he wants a solid seed come the tournament.
Hall looks to continue his hot streak against Iowa State’s next opponent, the UNI Panthers, and the remainder of its foes.
“Look to score big early and continue to dominate,” Hall said on his mindset for the remainder of the season.