West Xtra: West Allegheny's Hall is hard at work

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Nathan Hall began wrestling at age 5, but switched to hockey the following year.

"My dad [Don] wrestled when he attended Freedom High School, so he wanted me to try wrestling," Hall recalled. "But he also wanted me to try other sports. I played hockey for a year, but realized that I missed wrestling. So I switched back to wrestling when I was 7."

Hall has tried several other sports since his days in elementary school, but wrestling is still his favorite.

"I ran cross country in seventh, eighth, ninth and 10th grade, but decided to concentrate on wrestling last season," said Hall, who completed his junior year at West Allegheny High School. "I love wrestling and I want to do it at the collegiate level."

Hall enters his senior year with the ultimate goal of earning a college scholarship. For that to happen, he likely must qualify for the PIAA tournament, something he has been unable to do in three seasons at West Allegheny.

"I'm working harder this offseason to make sure I'm ready for my senior year," said Hall, who wants to major in petroleum engineering. "I have to get to the state tournament to show college coaches what I can do."

Hall broke into West Allegheny's starting lineup as a 126-pound freshman and did very well despite competing in a weight class dominated by seniors and juniors. He finished fourth in Class AAA Section 4 and finished with a 31-11 record after losing two in a row at the WPIAL tournament.

"It's not an easy thing to jump into the shark tank as a 126-pound freshman," Hall said. "The jump from junior high to varsity wasn't easy, but I learned a lot."

As a 145-pound sophomore, Hall placed second in Section 4 and sixth in the WPIAL, en route to a 35-4 record. He fell two wins short of a PIAA berth.

Last season, Hall moved up to 152 and won the section title, but turned in a disappointing 1-2 record at the WPIAL tournament. He finished the season with a 32-4 mark, which gives him a career record of 98-19.

"One of my goals last season was to join the Century Club," Hall said. "I hit a few bumps in the road and came up short."

With two wins, Hall will become the 16th West Allegheny wrestler to reach 100 victories. Hall has no chance of breaking the school record of 150, set by Ron Tarquinio in 2001.

"I told Nathan that he can't go past 129," joked West Allegheny coach Mike Johnson, who ranks fifth on West Allegheny's Century Club list with 130 wins. "I will have to pull him out of the lineup so he doesn't pass me."

Kidding aside, Johnson would be thrilled to have Hall pass his career win total.

"Nate is an awesome kid," Johnson said. "He works his butt off to get better. I've enjoyed having him in the wrestling room the past three years. I really think this is his year to get to Hershey."

Hall has been running and lifting almost every day since the high school season ended.

Earlier this month, Hall traveled to Battle Creek, Mich., to compete with the Gladiators club team at the Grand River Rumble.

"They had a dual tournament and an individual tournament," Hall said. "There were teams from all across the country. Our team had a 2-3 record in the team duals. I had a 5-0 record in the duals. In the individual tournament, I had a 5-1 record and placed third."

Hall's chances of earning a PIAA berth have improved since the end of the season. The PIAA voted to expand the PIAA bracket to 20 individuals. That means the top four finishers at the WPIAL tournament qualify for a trip to Hershey.

"It's awesome the PIAA expanded its bracket," Hall said. "The WPIAL certainly deserves a fourth berth."

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