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Innovation fascinates me. It always has. Because this sport has been around since the beginning of time, we have a tendency to think of it as this rigidly frozen thing that can't be moved or changed or improved upon. But then sometimes, and not often, an athlete comes along and flips wrestling upside down.
For example, John Smith took a technical role in moving wrestling forward by creating and perfecting the low-level single leg, while Dan Gable forged the attitude and the work ethic that would become synonymous with the American style of wrestling. To take it a step further, Ben Askren may not have invented funk wrestling (see Rich Sanders), but he certainly brought a certain level of creativity to the forefront when he and Jake Herbert rolled around an NCAA final mat like two kittens playing with a ball of yarn in 2006.
Without even wrestling in a Penn State singlet, Mark Hall is fast becoming an innovator in the sport of wrestling. I first noticed what Christian Pyles coined as the Pete Rose single leg in Fargo in the summer of 2016 when Hall's fellow Minnesotan Griffin Parriott hit it. I remember calling the match and thinking "Oh man, he slipped trying to hit a cross ankle pick." Then later it was "Wait a second, he did it again." Finally, by the third time, I realized that he was going to his belly to get to that single leg on purpose. I asked Parriott (while I was still on mic) right after the match if he was trying to go to his stomach on that cross pick. He reaffirmed my suspicion and said that he "learned it from Mark Hall."
A month later, I watched Hall win a Junior World title and hit the Pete Rose single 10 seconds into the finals match.
I did a "Behind The Dirt" on the Pete Rose single right after Junior Worlds, but I'm not the only one who is teaching the technique. Youth coach extraordinaire Mike Krause has been spotted teaching his own spin on the Pete Rose single on Facebook.
Whether you think this technique is valid or not doesn't matter, Hall is hitting it at a very high level. Not only did he get away with going to his belly at the Junior World Championships this summer, but he also put the folkstyle world on it's ear at the Southern Scuffle earlier this month, using the move in first 30 seconds of the finals against No. 5 Kyle Krutchmer.
Hall is changing the sport. Every coach I have ever talked to has instructed their athletes to "stay off their bellies." That may not be the case for much longer.
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