Vision Quest

Maryville's Hall wants it all in '07

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By Stefan Cooper
Sports Editor
Blount Today

Landon Hall collected a team-best 12 tackles, seven of them solo, as Maryville High School’s football team won its third consecutive state championship last month.

The Rebels routed Hillsboro, 35-10, late that Saturday night in Murfreesboro. On Monday, Hall was at wrestling practice.
The Maryville senior became the first grappler in school history to make the state wrestling tournament finals last spring.

Soddy-Daisy’s Tyler Roberson scored on an escape in overtime to take the 171-pound title at 3-1.
This year, Hall wants the gold.

"I’ve always wanted to win state," he said. "I wrestled since the second grade. Coming that close and not getting it hurts."

Rebel coach Mark Humphrey said he wasn’t surprised when Hall showed up at wrestling practice two days after the end of football season. Hall went 29-2 during last year’s historic run. He’s on much the same pace in 2007, improving to 22-1 after winning the 189-pound class at last weekend’s William Blount Invitational.

Hall’s only loss came to the reigning Florida state champion the Bradley Central Invitational last month, the match taking place two weeks after the Rebel dual-sport star began wrestling.

"He’s always been a hard worker," Humphrey said. "You couldn’t work much harder.

"He’s worked hard on his strength. He squats 470 (pounds). For a guy 190, that’s amazing."

Humphrey said the Rebel football staff combines a player’s lift in the squat, bench press and power clean, then divides the total by a player’s weight, to measure available power.

"We’ve never had anybody on the football team with is power index," Humphrey said. "He has worked really hard in the weight room. He’s got a lot of natural strength, too.

"He’s really been a leader in terms of leading drills every day. The intensity has really picked up since he’s come into the practice room."

Hall’s transformation from gridiron linebacker to wrestling standout necessitates slicing 11 pounds from his football playing weight of 200. It doesn’t require a rubber running suit or sport-specific diet to shed the pounds, Hall said.

He’ll watch more what he eats during wrestling season, he said.

"Once you get into the wrestling gym, you’re going to lose the weight," Hall said. "It’s hard at first. It’s a different kind of conditioning."

One Hall likes to get right to after football, Humphrey said.

"The state championship game was on a Saturday," he said. "He was at practice on Monday.

"He didn’t take any time off. He wrestled the Bradley Central tournament on seven days of practice. Those seven days of
practice, he had really put himself through it."

Hall took his lone loss at 3-2 in the Bradley final. The 2007 region champion has since maintained a withering pace, using primarily tournament wrestling to sharpen his technique.

During one such tournament, Hall wrestled six times over two days en route to the championship.

"When you wrestle six matches, you don’t want to wrestle for six minutes for six matches," he said.

It’s helped produce one of the fastest wrestlers he’s ever coached, Humphrey said.

"If Landon goes out and wrestles aggressively, I don’t think anybody can stop his take downs," he said.

With no Rebel 189-pounder available to push him, Hall scrimmages Maryville heavyweight Joshua Cantwell in practice, along with workouts with an area collegian. In the month before next month’s region tournament, Hall said he wants to get that much fitter, that much faster.

He’s never had to coax anything extra out of Hall, Humphrey said.

"He’s going to motivate himself," he said.

Back where he started
Last weekend’s invitational brought first-year William Blount coach Gary Thomas back where it all began.
The 1987 William Blount graduate is a former invitational champion at 112 pounds.

"It used to be the Maryville Invitational back when I wrestled," Thomas said.

Thomas takes over this season as former Governor coach Marty Carpenter, who’s wife is expecting, moves to the assistant’s chair.

Former William Blount coach and Blount County Wrestling Hall of Famer Bud Burnett made quite an impression on him during
his days as a Governor, Thomas said.

"He had such a big impact on my life," he said. "I just want to instill in these kids what Bud did for me. He always told us, ‘You wrestle a match the way you wrestle in practice. If you practice sloppy, you’ll wrestle sloppy.’ "

Kyle Cody, Kramer Drollman, Derek King, Caleb Burch, Robby Sneed and Pete Evans each claimed titles for the Governors at the invitational.

"We’ve got a great group of guys," Thomas said. "I guess the neat thing about this is the kids I’m coaching now, I coached at the middle school."

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