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"I love this sport" - Kairyn Hall

When Kairyn Hall enters the Old Mill gymnasium for this weekend’s Class 4A-3A Region Tournament, the 150-pound North County senior will do so with renewed enthusiasm and a sense of accomplishment.

Two years ago, Hall nearly walked away from the sport before being convinced to return by a former youth league coach.

"Kairyn didn’t wrestle his sophomore year," said coach Collin Alexander, a former North County wrestler. "At the time, Kairyn wasn’t into sports anymore and would rather hangout with friends."

But Kairyn Hall has returned as a force to be reckoned with, boasting a record of 31-3 that includes 20 pins.

"I’m happy I came back to the sport,” Hall said. “This program has made me realize my love for the sport and my goals for the sport."

Hall pinned all four of his opponents to win last weekend’s Anne Arundel County Tournament, improving on last year’s third-place finish.

A returning third-place finisher at regions, Hall used falls in 75 seconds, 3:12 and 3:42 to reach the finals. In the championship bout, Hall took 28 seconds to deck junior Peyton Miller of Broadneck, a county runner-up last year whose record slipped to 40-2.

"Honestly it feels amazing being a county champion," Hall said. "It feels like all the hard work and time that I’ve been putting into the gym and the room is actually making a difference."

Hall is being mentored by Alexander and assistants Montez Coleman, a 2016 North County graduate, and Nick Nordhausen, a 2017 Mount Hebron graduate.

Collin Alexander also nearly left wrestling in high school, but for different reasons. Before graduating in 2012 from North County, Alexander went 29-10 as a junior after placing third at the counties and regions. As a senior, Alexander took a record of 25-9 into the county tournament, where his season ended after he allowed his temper to get the best of him.

"There was an argument between me and some wrestlers that cussed out my mother. Seeing my mother get upset, I let my emotions get the best of me. My senior year ended at counties after I was told by the assistant principal I wasn’t allowed back into the school. That was a life lesson learned for me and I have looked back at that moment so many times to remind myself to never let my emotions get the best of me in a heated situation. It has also helped me with coaching. I have experienced my dreams slip away from me," Alexander said. "I had to battle with the feeling of letting my school, coaches, teammates and family down. I promised myself I would learn from my mistakes. I feel like this is one of the reasons I have a good connection with the athletes on the team, I have been in their shoes. I tell them we can't worry about what everyone else is doing. We have to worry about ourselves. Accountability and discipline has been a big change in our room this season. It’s something the team adapted to and the parents have thanked me for it. Whatever the results are after every match, I want them to take something from it and grow off of it."

Soon, Alexander decided to become part of the solution instead of a problem.

"My senior year I decided I wanted to become a police officer. I was fortunate enough to have an opportunity to get into a federal police department. I work for the Department Of Defense," Alexander said. "I'm a corporal. I’m also a field training officer. Wrestling has made this career possible for me by putting me in hard situations and pushing through and learning from every experience. The self-discipline the sport has taught me has made me a better person."

Married with two daughters, Alexander met his wife, Sarah, when he wrestled for the local Rebels youth league.

"Her dad is Doug Lombard. He was Old Mill's first state champ and he coached me," Alexander said. "The year 2016 was my first year coaching at North County, and I was an assistant coach under my cousin, Brandon Ballard. It was coach Montez Coleman’s senior year."

Before moving to Anne Arundel County as a sophomore, Hall had been a youth league wrestler in Baltimore County for the Lansdowne Gators. Hall's coach, Ryan Brown, was a former third-place state finisher in the early 2000s at Lansdowne High.

"Ryan said Kairyn was a special kid in the room, but always battled with behavior when he was younger. Kairyn didn’t wrestle freshman year due to COVID. Kairyn's junior year, Coach Ryan asked him to come out for the team and give it a chance again. That brought back the passion for him. I had watched Kairyn wrestle in the youth league a few times, so I knew a little bit about him, but I never told him," Alexander said. "I wanted to see what he wanted to bring to the table and whether or not he would show the staff how good he could be. The first day I knew it was going to be good to have him on the team just with how respectful he was and upfront he was to us. He didn’t know then, but I saw a leader in him. He never tries to stand out in the room or to have the spotlight placed on him. He just wanted to wrestle and become better every day."

Hall finished last season with a 28-12 record after the state tournament, where he lost his first-round bout, 10-9, to eventual third place finishing sophomore Vince Corso of Urbana, and, his last bout, 4-2, to junior Jacob Wait of Chopticon.

"I guess you can say I came back because of the coaches, the team and my love for the sport. I feel at home when I’m wrestling. It's calming. It takes my mind away from everything else,” Hall said. “I would say my grades are decent. I am definitely considering going to college. That’s been one of my dreams since I was a little kid. I want to make myself, family, friends and coaches proud of me.”

South River's eventual state champion senior Sam Ditmars had a pair of victories a year ago over Hall, who defeated Broadneck's Rylan Woodward, 2-0, for third place at counties before losing to Woodward twice on the way to finishing fourth at regions.

"During the offseason, Kairyn and a few other wrestlers were dedicated to going to the gym and working. Kairyn proceeded to keep wrestling at different open mats in the area and wrestled in open events," Alexander said. "He was determined to come back for his senior year better than the last one. He told me this was his year to focus on himself, but what he didn’t see was that he was finally becoming the leader on the team by leading by example."

Among Hall's losses this year are those to Nick Walker of Delaware's Cape Henlopen and junior Linx Lawless of Broadneck. Hall lost twice to Walker, and once, by 7-2, to Lawless.

For context, Lawless improved to 40-2 with his 144-pound county championship fall in 4:55 over Meade senior Cavell Morris, whose record falls to 36-2. Lawless reached the finals on a pin in 3:27 and a semifinal 12-7 decision over fourth-place finishing sophomore Matteo Brown of Arundel.

Alexander, Coleman and Nordhausen are major influences on Hall. Coleman placed first in counties and regions and finished his senior year with a record of 32-4. Nordhausen wrestled his freshman year at Loyola before transferring to his home school Mt. Hebron, where he placed fourth at states as a junior and second at states as a senior.

"My relationship with coach Alexander is a special one. I feel loved by the team and the staff. All of my coaches make sure to keep me on track. If I get distracted in any way, they get me back on track, whether that’s in school and especially in the room," Hall said. "They make sure that I keep a level head and make sure that I get my goals done. My goals for the rest of the season are to win the regional. I am going to try my hardest to become a state champion and then move on to nationals and show my talent and hard work on a bigger stage.”

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