Wheeler’s Zyan Hall, a Naval Academy commit, was named the Cobb County Wrestler Association’s Boys Wrestler of the Year, after winning the 170-pound weight class at this season’s state wrestling championship.
Hall had a lucrative two years as a Wildcat. He was named Outstanding Wrestler at the Cobb County Tournament earlier this season. His previous season included a runner-up finish at the state tournament, a result he said inspired him to aim for top honors this season.
“I think it was more so redemption because the year before I was a little bit down on myself after I lost,” Hall said. “So this year, coming into my senior year, I only had one opportunity, one chance to make this right. Afterwards, it was just a big relief.”
Hall’s eventual finish as a top wrestler in the state is a product of a diversified sports background.
The champion began wrestling in fourth grade in St. Louis Park, Minnesota, where he said he initially fell in love with the sport. While developing the fundamental skills needed for wrestling, Hall also ran cross country in middle school and played football.
“I was an athlete who wrestled,” said Hall of his nuanced sports pedigree while at Wheeler.
But one year removed from his freshman wrestling season at Mounds View High School, Hall transferred more 1,000 miles to Wheeler.
After his trek south, he continued his football career for the Wildcats as a cornerback, but wrestling became more of an afterthought at a school most well-known for its boys’ basketball success.
That all changed when Wheeler hired former Virginia Tech wrestler Billy Miller as wrestling coach in 2020. Miller had previously coached at Auburn High School in Riner, Virginia, following his graduation from college in 2019.
Miller said he was made aware of the resources offered to the wrestling program at Wheeler. He said the COVID-19 Pandemic had forced the high school to sell much of its wrestling equipment, and to convert the former wrestling room into a multi-use weight room.
Rather than using a space reserved solely for wrestling, Miller said the team rolled out several old wrestling mats onto the weight room floor for practice. But even given the situation, Zyan was an instant stand-out.
Hall didn’t care. Miller’s presence was enough to convince the junior to give another shot at a state title.
“The more I was away from wrestling, the more I appreciated all that it has to offer, and it teaches you and just the fun of it,” Hall said. “So when my coach called me and we talked and stuff. It was just another relief when I came to the realization that this is what I want to do.”
Utilizing an enhanced arsenal of offensive techniques, Hall said he was able to sharpen his skill against his coach, who had wrestled as a heavyweight at the collegiate level. He credits wrestling his coach in training with giving him the necessary tools to best the top high school wrestlers in his weight class.
Hall said his pace, intensity and motor all developed under Miller, and helped transform him into the state champion he is now.
“He’s just on a whole different level from all the other kids,” Miller said. “It seems like he’s wrestling in three dimensions and everybody else is wrestling in two. Everything that he does has intention, so whether he’s faking a shot to get a takedown or he’s actually attempting a shot, everything has intention.”
In becoming a more complete wrestler, Hall also said he developed into more of a leader on the team. For a program Miller said was composed of around 80% first-time wrestlers, Hall gave the team a source of inspiration and experience.
“Zyan was like having an assistant coach right there with me,” Miller said. “He was always trying to build everybody up, and he wanted all of those kids to be as successful as he was in the sport.”
Come this winter, Hall will dawn the blue and gold for Navy, but he remains diligent in analyzing his game in the present. Given his recent strides in offensive development and team-based leadership, he and his coach believe Hall could become an undeniable collegiate power.
“I feel like I have so much more to give to the sport, and so much more that the Naval Academy and the coaches have for me,” Hall said. “All the national stuff and state championship, it’s always going to be big for me, but I also know my future is bright in the sport of wrestling.”