Assistant Sports Editor

Joe Tuscano has been with the Observer-Reporter since 1980. He has covered all sports for the newspaper, including the Steelers, Pirates, Pitt football, local college football and wrestling.

Gavin Teasdale

For the Observer-Reporter

Gavin Teasdale

When Gavin Teasdale walked off the wrestling match 16 months ago in Hershey after becoming the 13th wrestler to win four PIAA titles, the future looked bright.

A four-time state champion is rare in a sport that demands so much discipline and dedication.

And while Teasdale might have had a couple bumps along the road, there was nothing to suggest that his path to success in college and beyond was there for the taking.

But over those last 16 months, Teasdale‘s future in the sport not only seemed to darken, but appeared to be fading.

Teasdale committed to Iowa as a junior, then changed his mind and decided to attend Penn State.

Teasdale had his struggles in the Nittany Lions program and never wrestled a varsity match. Worse, there were whispers that he was struggling with his weight and some felt the Jefferson-Morgan graduate was losing his desire.

In a podcast released last month by PA Power Wrestling, the normally guarded Teasdale talked to Eric Knopsnyder sand Jeff Upson about some of his problems.

The interview shined a light on some of the hurdles Teasdale faced and many were of his own making.

He also confirmed that he will be trying for a fresh start and transferring to Iowa.

In the interview, Teasdale admitted his problems began in his junior year at Jefferson-Morgan.

“Going from my sophomore year into my junior year was when I really didn’t care,“ Teasdale said in the interview.

“I went my own way. I went away from my coaches. I probably started living the life you wouldn’t want your kid to live. I went into matches in the wrong state of mind. What I mean by that is you want your body to do something and it’s not responding. And knowing the stuff you were doing off the mat was affecting you.”

Teasdale said that the two losses he suffered in his senior season, the only losses of his varsity career, might’ve been avoided if he had a different attitude.

“I was holding a lot of grudges and I had a lot of anger in me,“ said Teasdale. “Those habits, like smoking weed, I thought everybody did it. There are other ways to approach life and now I’m starting to realize that.”

Teasdale said that at the time of his performance in the Pittsburgh Wrestling Classic, he was only wrestling at 40 percent.

“That was stupid, just stupid,” he said. “You’re giving opponents the advantage there. ... my thought process was screwed up.“

Teasdale said that his time at Penn State was not centered around wrestling but rather the social opportunities the campus provided.

“I didn’t care. I just didn’t care,” said Teasdale. “I was going in the wrestling room every day and I was wrestling good. They wanted me to start. I was going off the deep end.”

Teasdale took a medical leave from Penn State last November and was gone for about a month.

“I went through the motions,” said Teasdale of his return to Penn State. “I was going through the motions. I was doing whatever would get me on the mat. I was trying to please the coaches. ... I didn’t address everything and I did the same things. I was the same person.”

Teasdale said that he decided to go to Penn State because it was close to home and close to a lot of his friends.

Now he sees it as a mistake, because it kept him close to the “atmosphere” that was so destructive to his life and wrestling career.

So Teasdale has a new start and appears to understand what he needs to stay away from in order to allow him to pursue the bright future that was once in front of him.

The pen is in his hand and his story is not yet completed. He has the opportunity to write a different ending than what most people might have thought after watching him stumble.

Teasdale is reunited with his friend Spencer Lee, a three-time PIAA champion from Franklin Regional who came back from a knee injury to win two NCAA titles with the Hawkeyes.

Here’s hoping Teasdale can find that same type of success.

Assistant sports editor Joe Tuscano can be reached at jtuscano@observer-reporter.com

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