Hall faces biggest challenge amid eight-match winning streak


Junior Earl Hall defeats his Virginia Tech competitor and has his hand raised after the match. Iowa State defeated Virginia Tech 21-12 Jan. 18.  

Beau Berkley

The month of January has been a kind one to ISU wrestler Earl Hall. 

Since Jan. 1, Hall has been on a romp through competition, defeating three ranked opponents en route to winning the Southern Scuffle in Chattanooga, Tenn. on Jan. 2. But the 133 pound All-American didn’t stop in Chattanooga. He’s since defeated three opponents in dual competition, bringing his record to 8-0 since the start of 2015. 

Hall’s recent triumphs on the mat may not come as a surprise to the avid ISU wrestling observer, as Hall’s speed mixed with his technical ability gained from years of freestyle wrestling combine for sudden, swift takedowns from almost any position. 

But Hall said it’s not his wrestling ability that’s made the biggest difference as of late, rather, it’s what is going on between his ears. 

“Usually [in the past] I’d go out and think about ‘don’t let this happen,'” Hall said. “My dad always told me if you go out there not to lose, you’re going to lose. I definitely tell myself to stay on my offense, keep scoring and don’t get tired and sit back.” 

Hall has earned victories against No. 8 Rossi Bruno of Michigan, No. 9 Jimmy Gulibon of Penn State, No. 13 George Dicamillo of Virginia, as well as No. 19 Kevin Norestrem of Virginia Tech. Hall earned the wins against Bruno, Gulibon and Dicamillo in the last day of the Southern Scuffle. 

Chalk up Hall’s success to him riding a hot streak, or maybe his new mental game, but ISU wrestling coach Kevin Jackson thinks of it in more simple terms. 

“He’s better than all eight guys he’s wrestled,” Jackson said. “He’s better than a lot of guys, but he goes out and he scores points. What he’s doing better is he’s rolling guys a lot better, he’s giving a lot better effort on top. He’s on a roll and he’s going to be challenged the next couple of weeks against pretty decent competition.” 

After sitting out since Dec. 7, Oklahoma’s 133-pounder Cody Brewer, Hall’s next opponent, returned to the lineup in powerful fashion with a 17-5 major decision against West Virginia’s Cory Stainbrook. Brewer is a four-time state champion from Missouri and has earned All-American honors the last two years. 

Brewer is ranked No. 2 by Intermat and is 11-0 on the season. He is also Oklahoma’s highest ranked wrestler and his match with No. 6 Hall is just one of eight matches featuring a ranked wrestler Jan. 31. 

He is also no stranger to Hall. The two faced off twice while at the Olympic Training Center, with Hall leading both bouts before Brewer eventually came back to win. 

Hall remembers those matches, but that’s not what he’ll be thinking about after he shakes Brewer’s hand for the third time.  

“It’s in the past and I can’t dwell on it,” Hall said. “I’m a different man now.”