TOWNSEND — From 1974 to 2024, the name of coach Harry Hall has continued to echo off the wrestling mats in Townsend.
“We started the program in 1974 with Tom Mitchell, (who) was the head coach at that time and we were as green as the green man. ... My landlords’ kids all wrestled, and they needed a junior high coach and I started coaching junior high wrestling,” Hall recalled of the beginning of his five decades of mentoring Bulldog wrestlers.
It didn’t take long before Hall found himself, along with Mitchell, building a high school wrestling program at Townsend from the ground up.
“Then I took over (in 1976)," Hall said. "We had some good athletes at that time, and we just continued to get better every year."
Hall will be the first in line to tell you that the practice gyms, along with the floor mats and equipment, weren’t always as fancy as they are now.
“Back in 1974 we practiced in the old gym in Townsend," he said. "At wintertime you could lay on your back and see the holes in the ceiling and the snow coming through. Yes, you had to roll the mats up every day. We had two heaters. ... It was very cold in that old gym."
After leading the program for 25 years, Hall took a step back in 2000. However, he would stay on as an assistant coach with the team.
This season, Hall is taking on an entirely new role as a volunteer coach, which promises to keep him just as busy.
“I love the sport of wrestling. My wife passed away last year, and I needed a lot of things to do in the wintertime," Hall said. "And I’m not going to quit coaching yet, because I love these kids. We're down in numbers this year, but they have a big heart and we’re going to keep developing everybody that we need to."
And Hall has no plans to hang up his whistle anytime soon.
“Wrestling is an all-around sport, it’s the best sport in the world," he said. "That’s why I haven’t quit yet, I guess.”
For Hall, that's 50 years and counting.