Apple Valley senior Mark Hall, the nation's most coveted high school wrestler, selected Penn State as his collegiate destination Wednesday. Minnesota was among his five finalists.
"There was a big weight off my shoulder once I got off the Penn State campus," Hall said of his official visit to the Big Ten school. "It felt like home to me. That's where I felt the most comfortable."
Hall has won five consecutive Class 3A individual state titles, and has his sights set on becoming the first wrestler in state history to win six. The 170-pounder has gone unbeaten in each of the past two seasons, and been ranked No. 1 nationally (all weight classes) by InterMat Wrestling and was named All-USA Wrestler of the Year last spring.
Hall's career record is 229-4. He is 35-0 in the state tournament, with 20 pins.
"I want my last year to be something special," Hall said. "I would like to be remembered as the face of Minnesota wrestling."
Pitino signs three
Three national letters of intent came in Wednesday for Richard Pitino. The Gophers men's basketball coach called Hopkins combo guard Amir Coffey, whom ESPN ranks 33rd nationally, "a tremendous player," and touted how well Arkansas forward Eric Curry and Rochester John Marshall wing Michael Hurt will fit into his fast-paced, pressing system.
This class of 2016 is Pitino's highest ranked since taking the job in 2013, landing at 17th nationally by 247sports.com and 20th by Scout.com.
"The signing of these three student-athletes represents another step in the growth of our program," Pitino said in a news release. "In Amir and Michael, we have the two best prospects in our state staying home to help us in our pursuit to win a championship, while Eric's signing shows that we have as much to offer as any program in the country."
The Minnesota women's basketball team signed four recruits: Gadiva Hubbard (Virginia Beach, Va.), twin sisters Kehinde and Taiye Bello (Southfield, Mich.) and Jasmine Brunson (New York City).
U beats Northwestern
The No. 4-rated Gophers volleyball team defeated Northwestern in four sets, 25-23, 25-19, 22-25, 25-18 in Evanston, Ill., for its 13th consecutive victory. Hannah Tapp and Molly Lohman had 13 kills and 10 total blocks apiece to lead the first-place Gophers (22-3, 14-1 Big Ten).
With the loss, the Wildcats (13-13, 5-10 Big Ten) fell to a .500 overall record.
Minnesota hosts No. 1 Penn State, the defending NCAA champion, at 7 p.m. Saturday at the Sports Pavilion.
The Nittany Lions beat the Gophers in five sets earlier this season. Minnesota has not lost since.
• St. Thomas was a unanimous choice to win its 11th consecutive MIAC title in men's basketball in a preseason coaches' poll, in which coaches can't vote for their own team. St. John's was picked to finish second and St. Olaf third. The Tommies are ranked No. 4 nationally by D3hoops.com.
• The InnerCity Tennis Foundation of Minneapolis was named the U.S. Tennis Association's Community Association of the Year. InnerCity Tennis, founded in 1952, helps young people with limited means to thrive by playing tennis. It serves nearly 4,000 youngsters with free or low-cost programs.