Tom Hall made his rounds on the wrestling mat in The Cutler Event Center on Jan. 21 in a regular-season dual match with Alma College.
Only one wrestler had the feature fight tonight, and it was Hall.
Like Big Ben, he ticked in his red arena Thursday. One beat. One motion. One person. And it was only 8:30 p.m.
A senior 197-pound grappler, Hall, a Fife Lake native, paced the red floor early in the meet — a step with his right foot, a step with his left. More circling, more pacing. Tick. Tick. He finally snapped, launching forward, before putting his arms around Alma’s Jamie Jakes’ head moments into the first period.
It was like the two fighters were praying forehead-to-forehead — praying for the same outcome. Yet, only one individual could win this sermon, this fight. Still ticking, Hall recorded his first points in the first period against the No. 5, 197-pound wrestler in the country in Jakes. The bout was tied at 2-2 to start the third period. Jakes took a 3-2 lead on an escape before Hall tied the match on a penalty point, but the defensive slipping for a counter point wasn’t enough to stave off defeat for Hall.
His playing to the crowd ultimately fell just shy of another victory against a nationally-ranked opponent, while Olivet lost by a score of 22-16. Olivet is 13-10 on the season. Hall’s overall record this season is 19-7 with two losses against National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) Division I wrestlers, three losses to NCAA Division II wrestlers and two defeats against top-10 ranked NCAA Div. III wrestlers.
“Being the feature match was great. I knew that it would be a good battle between him and me,” Hall said. “I mostly felt excitement. I’ve grown a lot since my freshman year, and I finally understand that pressure isn’t really anything — you just have to go out there and fight with everything you have.”
After the fight, Hall, a captain, sat on his knees, staring at the event center’s grey cement wall. A figure in red, a figure in sweat, Hall bowed his head.
“I felt my team did an amazing job tonight,” Hall said. “We all wrestled as hard as we could, but unfortunately we had a few matches that didn’t go our way. I know our team, though, and this will be a great reminder to keep us working as hard as we can.”
During the fight, head wrestling coach Brandon Brissette was pacing the mat; his black and red striped tie danced as he motioned to his athletes to attack, to defend, to flip their opponents.
Unfortunately, Hall fell short, 8-5, a Scott Norwood field goal.
Former Olivet wrestling coach, Jare Klein (1968-2001), a hall of famer, was in the event center, as was President Steven Corey, Athletic Director Ryan Shockey and Provost Maria Davis.
What did Brissette say to Hall after the match?
“He simply told me to keep pushing,” Hall said. “We discussed some technique changes that should have been made during the match, and we also talked about the future.”
The future still looks bright for a Comet in singlets.