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Mark Hall Pens Congratulatory Open Letter To Penn State Wrestling

Penn State wrestling legend and NCAA champion Mark Hall wrote a heartfelt address to the Nittany Lions Saturday night after four wrestlers won national titles at the NCAA Championships.

In his introduction, Hall said he began writing the letter just 10 minutes after Aaron Brooks won the 184-pound title, becoming the fourth Nittany Lion of four finalists to take home individual glory atop the podium. He immediately credited the team’s passion for training and improving throughout such a challenging season.

“Over the course of the year, you guys had to be creative,” Hall wrote. “Not allowed into your facilities for some time, remained serviceable student-athletes when it seemed like the world around you was falling apart, and finally had to go through a condensed season to keep yourselves and the competitors around you safe. Through it all, you guys stayed on the track and showed what all that hard work behind the scenes can do.”

Over the offseason, some Penn State wrestlers took an unusual approach to their training regimens amid the pandemic’s restrictions. In fact, there’s a patch of dead grass in Brooks’ front yard to prove it.

“Over the summer when we all were in town, we didn’t really have a place to wrestle because even Rec Hall was still shut down,” Brooks said in January. “We would wrestle in my front yard, and in the grass, there’s a circle patch that’s missing just from us wrestling in the yard.”

Hall also shouted out the Nittany Lions’ youth. Nick Lee, the lone true senior at the NCAA Championships, took home the 141-pound title. Meanwhile, Penn State held five freshmen on its nine-man tournament roster — the most of any program represented in St. Louis.

“One of the youngest squads to take the mats at the NCAA Championships, and it truly looked like you all have been doing this for years,” Hall wrote. “The maturity and resilience shown by this team is more impressive than anything I’ve ever seen.”

Finally, the three-time Big Ten champion closed out his letter by writing that this Penn State wrestling squad made him “proud to be a Nittany Lion.”

“Today, tomorrow, and every day after, no one will ever be able to take this away from you,” Hall wrote. “I know on paper you guys weren’t crowned the 2021 NCAA Champions as a team, but damn… it sure feels like it.”

Hall’s open letter is especially touching when considering how his collegiate wrestling career ended. His final trip to the NCAA Championships was wiped away by the coronavirus pandemic, essentially robbing him of the chance to earn another NCAA title. Last March, he said he felt “eternally grateful” for his time at Penn State.

You can read Hall’s letter in its entirety below.

A letter to the 2021 Penn State Wrestling Team,

I’m writing this 10 minutes after the FOUR of Penn State’s wrestlers completed their seasons on top of the podium so there are some things that might not make a lot of sense. Over the course of the year, you guys had to be creative. Not allowed into your facilities for some time, remained serviceable student-athletes when it seemed like the world around you was falling apart, and finally had to go through a condensed season to keep yourselves and the competitors around you safe. Through it all, you guys stayed on the track and showed what all that hard work behind the scenes can do. On days you weren’t allowed to practice and be around the great tradition you have in your room, you guys were wrestling in LIVING ROOMS. One of the youngest squads to take the mats at the NCAA Championships, and it truly looked like you all have been doing this for years. The maturity and resilience shown by this team is more impressive than anything I’ve ever seen. There is so much to say about how incredible you guys are as (in order of importance) human beings, students, and athletes. You guys make me proud to be a Nittany Lion. Today, tomorrow, and every day after, no one will ever be able to take this away from you. I know on paper you guys weren’t crowned the 2021 NCAA Champions as a team, but damn… it sure feels like it. 

Congratulations, myself along with the Penn State community can’t wait to see you do it again next year.

-Marky

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About the Author

Matt DiSanto

Matt proudly served as Onward State’s managing editor for two years until graduating from Penn State in May 2022. Now, he’s off in the real world doing real things. Send him an email ([email protected]) or follow him on Twitter (@mattdisanto_) to stay in touch.

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