Penn State Wrestling

2018 commit Gavin Teasdale aiming to bring lofty goals to Penn State wrestling

Penn State wrestling coach Cael Sanderson, seen here last season, will soon welcome 2018 commit Gavin Teasdale to the Nittany Lions. Teasdale could be remember as one of The Keytone State’s best-ever high school wrestlers.
Penn State wrestling coach Cael Sanderson, seen here last season, will soon welcome 2018 commit Gavin Teasdale to the Nittany Lions. Teasdale could be remember as one of The Keytone State’s best-ever high school wrestlers. Centre Daily Times, file

Penn State commit Gavin Teasdale could solidify his place as one of Pennsylvania’s all-time great high school wrestlers by the end of this season.

Teasdale heads into his senior year at Jefferson-Morgan with a 122-0 record and three state titles on his resume, putting him in position to etch his name alongside five others to go undefeated and capture four PIAA titles in their careers. If Teasdale puts together another unbeaten season, wrestling historian Ken “Stats” Wunderley said the future Nittany Lion would rank among the state’s legends.

“The top 2 have been Spencer Lee and Cary Kolat,” said Wunderley, who has covered wrestling for more than 30 years. “And then after that, if Gavin can stay undefeated, then he’s got to be in the top 5 — possibly the top 3.”

Teasdale will chase after his fourth straight undefeated season this winter before beginning his Penn State career. The high school senior developed into one of the nation’s top recruits with a relentless offensive wrestling style. He’s been dominant his entire career at Jefferson-Morgan, and he plans to wrestle with the same attitude and approach for the Nittany Lions.

“Same goals as I did in high school — just taking it one match at a time and staying undefeated,” Teasdale said recently after competing in FloWrestling’s Who’s No. 1 dual at Lehigh University. “That’s always the goal.”

Teasdale lost to New Jersey’s Pat Glory at 126 pounds in the event pitting the country’s top high school wrestlers against each other. The Nittany Lions commit is known for his dedication to the sport, as club coach Jody Strittmatter said Teasdale has been one of the “most consistent, hard workers” out of thousands of kids to train with him at Young Guns Wrestling Club. He’s trained at the club almost every day it’s open since he was in sixth grade. And he showed his desire to improve from the start.

“When he was a sixth grader and a ninth grader, he would always challenge himself and go with older guys, bigger guys,” Strittmatter said. “He was never afraid of that, and then not only would he do that, but he would expect to win. He wasn’t just going with those guys just so if he lost, he could say, ‘Oh they’re older, they’re bigger.’”

His fearless attitude turned him into a three-time state champion — Strittmatter also said he could “go down as one of the best ever” in Pennsylvania — but Teasdale admitted he’d been “backing off since it’s my senior year” after the loss to Glory. In the past, he trained every day, but recently he said he’s only worked out three or four days a week.

“I just need to train like I have when I first started wrestling — there would be no one beating me,” Teasdale said.

During his high school career, he’s not only proven to be unbeatable, but he’s also been dominant and shined on the biggest stage at the PIAA tournament. Strittmatter said Teasdale broke the state record for most points ever scored in the state tournament during his sophomore season when he tallied 96 points, showing off his offensive approach on the mat.

“He can just put 20 points up like nothing,” Strittmatter said. “He was almost averaging 25 points a match, which is unheard of in our sport, and especially at the Pennsylvania state tournament where you have so many good wrestlers.”

Teasdale trained with one of the best ever in Lee — whom Wunderley, the wrestling historian, would rank No. 1 — while establishing himself as perhaps Jefferson-Morgan’s best wrestler since Kolat.

Kolat finished his high school career with a 137-0 record and four state titles. A story published in Sports Illustrated in 1992 on Kolat’s high school success featured the headline “The Best There Ever Was.” Lee dominated in his high school career before wrestling with a torn ACL and suffering his only loss in the state final in 2017. Lee compiled a 144-1 record with three state championships in his career to go with three world championships.

“He went to three world tournaments and completely pummeled the competition and two of them he was hurt very badly and shouldn’t have wrestled,” Wunderley said. “So that’s why I consider him the best. That’s just considering straight through his high school career.”

Teasdale may not surpass Lee and Kolat in Wunderley’s mind, but he’ll join a rare group of Pennsylvania wrestlers with another perfect season. And he left the Who’s No. 1 dual motivated to improve ahead of his senior season, vowing to return to his dedicated training regimen.

“I need to get back, and I need to work on my finishes,” Teasdale said. “I need to work on living the right life. ... And wrestling every single day like I did when I was younger.”