Hall is a national champ
Oak Glen freshman has continued success on the wrestling mat
NEW MANCHESTER — Not long after he won a state title, Oak Glen’s Peyton Hall had his sights on another championship.
He is still nine months away from getting a chance to defend his title in Huntington, but he has already won a championship on the national stage.
Hall captured the National High School Coaches Association Freshman 120-pound national title in late March. The tournament was held in Virginia Beach, Va., and featured more than 300 wrestlers from nationwide high schools.
“The top guys in the nation are a big jump from the state level, but there are tough people wherever you go,” Hall said.
In the quarterfinals at the NHSCA tournament, Hall beat Ethan Oakley of North Carolina in a 2-1 decision. In the semifinals, he won by tech fall against Ethan Hepner of Ohio powerhouse Lakewood St. Edward. Then, in the finals, Hall had a 5-0 decision against Chase Saldate of California.
“I expected to do well at nationals because I worked really hard all year and I wanted to win very badly,” Hall said. “After the regular high school season was over I didn’t take any breaks. I got straight into practice for national tournaments. I didn’t train any differently because I feel comfortable doing what I do and I always work hard at practice.”
Just a week after claiming the freshman national title, Hall went up to Indiana University of Pennsylvania for the FloNational Tournament. He won by fall in the opening round and advanced from there after earning an 8-2 decision. In the round of 16 he was going up against the No. 1 seed in the tournament at 120 pounds. He lost that match and went 1-1 in the consolation bracket.
“Flo Nationals was a step up from freshman nationals,” Hall said. “The kids there were the best of the best. I wrestled the top kids of all ages in my weight class and it was a real challenge, but a great experience.”
Even though it may be the offseason in the West Virginia and Ohio Valley Athletic Conference circuit, there is no offseason for Hall. He is planning to head back to Virginia Beach for the NHSCA dual meet and will be in Canton this weekend for the Viper Tournament. Hall will also travel to Michigan for another national tournament this summer.
He currently wrestles for the Gladiator Wrestling Club in nearby Imperial, Pa.
“I’m not planning to take any breaks,” he said.
Hall is planning to change his weight class for his sophomore season at Oak Glen, though. He may move up one or two classes.
But as he looks back on his highly successful freshman year with the Golden Bears, he sees a determined young grappler who will only get better.
Hall went 43-3 for Oak Glen and, along with senior Robert Bozek, claimed state title for the Golden Bears. Hall had to work in overtime against two-time state champion Cole Laya of East Fairmont. With a takedown with 17 seconds remaining in the extra period, Hall came away with a 3-1 decision. The victory avenged an earlier overtime loss to Laya in the regional finals.
Hall had no problems going up against more experienced and more decorated wrestlers this past season. In Wheeling, he claimed the OVAC title by downing Shadyside’s Greg Quinn. That put Hall’s name on the mat and his persona is now renowned throughout the Ohio Valley, the state of West Virginia and even throughout the country.
“I knew I had potential to have a good freshman year but what I earned this year, I worked hard for,” Hall said. “My dad and my coaches pushed me to work hard my whole wrestling career.”
Just because he has accomplished more than most wrestlers can only dream about doesn’t mean Hall will sell himself short in the future.
He, too, has bigger dreams for himself.
“My short-term goals are to make weight and keep having success at the summer tournaments,” Hall said. “My long- term goals are to wrestle Division I in college and to stay healthy throughout the process.”