For the past 25 years, former Cabrillo High wrestler Mark Hall has had to face a very different opponent — fires in Anchorage, Alaska.
The fire chief in The Last Frontier State will soon be honored for his work on the mat.
Hall will be one of eight new inductees into the 2017 Cabrillo Hall of Fame on Friday, Aug. 4, at the CHS Cafeteria.
Hall, who won Los Padres League championships and earned All-CIF state honors in wrestling, is still a resident of Anchorage. But he’s expected to join the seven other inductees at his high school alma mater during the first Friday in August.
“I was very humbled and honored to be named to the Hall of Fame,” Hall said during a recent telephone interview. “I’ve had a good career in my life. I loved everything I did.”
Before Hall became a star grappler in Vandenberg Village, he recalled a time when he wasn’t the most physically imposing athlete on the mat during his freshman year. Yet, one former CHS wrestling coach saw something in Hall.
“I really wasn’t athletic. But coach Ned Shores pointed me in the right direction,” Hall said, who added Shores coached Hall for the next three years.
Dave Long was another man who was heavily involved in Hall’s wrestling career at CHS. Hall described Long as a competitive guy who wanted the best out of his athletes. Hall even got involved in a back-and-forth cross country run with him during one wrestling practice.
“When I was a sophomore, coach Long said ‘Let’s go for a run.’ We wound up doing a cross country run to Vandenberg Air Force Base. He picked up the beat while running and led most of the way, but I still stayed with him. He would take the lead and then I did. I didn’t want him to beat me,” Hall said laughing.
Hall, who graduated from Cabrillo in 1976, is still reflective of his time inside the CHS gym while facing opponents in his weight class.
“Wrestling was good to me,” Hall said.
After Cabrillo, Hall went on to wrestle at Cal Poly and Hancock College. He finished his sophomore season at Hancock as the undefeated Community College state champion.
From Hancock, he put on the stars and stripes and represented the United States at the World Team Tour in New Zealand in 1979. Hall cites Long as one of the men who helped set up his appearance in the land down under.
After graduating from Hancock and wrestling at Cal State Bakersfield — where he obtained a Bachelor of Arts degree in Criminal Justice in 1981 — Hall joined the Santa Barbara County Sheriff’s Department for a five-year run. He later joined the fire service — the field that saw him rise from rookie firefighter to the city of Anchorage’s Battalion Chief.
Hall was not only aggressive in fighting blazes near his city, but was an ardent supporter of fellow firefighters and their families outside of Alaska. After Sept. 11, 2001, Hall orchestrated a donation program designed to aid the families of the New York City firefighters who lost their lives in the line of duty. His efforts went on to raise $150,000 in donations. In 2005, Hall led a Search and Rescue team from Anchorage to Thailand following a Tsunami that was triggered by a 9.0 earthquake that rocked the Indian Ocean, claiming more than 5,000 lives.
The word “Chief” still applies to Hall today, as he’s now the fire chief for Hillcorp Alaska — a gas and energy company. While his days as a wrestler have ended, Hall still adopts the team-first attitude that he embodied while competing in an individual realm.
“In wrestling, it’s team and individual oriented — but we did things as a team,” Hall said. “Fire fighting is all team. It’s you go and I go.