Mark Hall went through an impressive field at 74 kg in Tampere, Finland to secure his second Junior World gold medal. Depending on your perspective, Hall was not handed a kind draw given the achievements of his opponents, or maybe more appropriately, his well-credentialed opponents were handed a bad one since they had to beat Wreck Hall to even get to the final.
Hall stated before the tournament that this would likely be his last time wrestling at 74 kg. He figures to fill into 174 pounds for the Nittany Lions again this season, and he will likely end up at whatever class UWW adds between 74 kg and 86 kg. The 26-pound jump has led highly skilled wrestlers like David Taylor and Kyle Dake to make difficult decisions regarding whether to make the jump or not.
Hall kicked off the tournament with an early first period tech over Adlan Batiev of Ukraine. In the second round, he took on Radik Valiev (Russia), a cadet world silver medalist who notably lost to Penn State's Mason Manville in that championship final. Hall was able to win a close 6-2 match.
In the quarterfinals, Hall took on the junior Asian champion in Iran's Mohammad Mottaghinia. Hall picked up a 10-0 tech late in the second period. In the semifinals, he faced European junior bronze medalist Muhammet Kucukyildirim of Turkey. Hall was tested but ultimately pulled out a 10-3 victory.
In the final, Hall took on Isa Shapiev of Uzbekistan. Shapiev had wrestled a tremendous tournament to that point. After being drawn a first round bye, Shapiev won his three matches with a fall, 11-0 tech, and an 8-1 decision. Hall pinned Shapiev in ridiculous 43 seconds with a cement mixer, similar to what he did to Ryan Preisch at the Scuffle last year to clinch the gold.
Hall's ability to win scrambles shined through this tournament. He says wrestling through positions is something he always looks to do, and he just has a sixth sense in knowing what his opponent will do when they are deep on a shot. This will be Hall's final junior tournament, and he likely will begin senior competition next year. The world is on notice, and has been for some time. Hall is coming for every major freestyle medal he can get his hands on, and it starts in 2018.