For those in wrestling circles, the news of Gavin Teasdale’s decision to transfer from Penn State to Iowa, which was his initial choice following his fourth PIAA title, was far from a surprise.
In breaking down the move, there are certainly obvious positives and negatives to the decision.
First, the pros. Teasdale has a long-standing relationship with Hawkeye head coach Tom Brands and feels more than confident in being able to work with the intense, sometimes controversial, legend. The former Jefferson-Morgan standout will also be reunited with close friend and rival Spencer Lee, who has already won back-to-back national titles at 125 pounds.
However, both of these points have a negative side. Brands’ loud, confrontational coaching style is a stark change from the subdued, almost Zen-like ways of Penn State head man Cael Sanderson.
In a quote that surprised me, Teasdale implied that the Nittany Lions, who pride themselves on their family-like atmosphere that encourages personal growth, didn’t give him the sort of support outside of the sport that he required to thrive. Considering the fact that Teasdale turned away from his initial commitment to Iowa to matriculate in Happy Valley, that sentiment doesn’t make much sense.
Iowa not only brings back Lee at 125 pounds, but another former Pennsylvania state champion in Austin DeSanto at 133 pounds. DeSanto’s antics during and after matches not only drew the ire of the collegiate wrestling world, but even earned him a rare, albeit brief, suspension from Brands. This means Iowa returns All-Americans at the two most logical weights for Teasdale.
Another Keystone prep star, redshirt sophomore Max Murin, is not going to give up his starting job at 141 pounds quietly. Murin, a four-time state placer that included two titles and a silver, was ranked as high as 10th in the country before qualifying for nationals during a 17-9 campaign.
I’ve talked to some local coaches and they believe Teasdale could slot in at 133 with DeSanto moving to 141 and Murin ultimately being the odd man out. If that should happen, that means Iowa will open dual matches with three world class standouts it poached from Penn State’s backyard that boast a combined eight state titles.
I will give Teasdale credit for making a move that clearly wasn’t the easiest for him. Taking his talents to Pitt, West Virginia or even Ohio State would have kept him closer to home and to his support system.
Had he stayed at Penn State and worked on his weight management, the lightweight standout was the obvious favorite to turn the Nittany Lions’ only weakness (125 pounds) into one of their strengths. Ironically, his biggest challenger for the job would have been four-time Iowa state champion Brody Teske.
With the Nittany Lions and Ohio State surpassing the Hawkeyes on both the national and Big Ten levels, Teasdale will no doubt be seen as a key part of the equation in taking the most tradition-rich program in the country back to the top of the mountain.
Though unlikely, Brands could make the decision to redshirt Teasdale and allow him plenty of time to adjust to college life both on and off the mat. As previously illustrated, the Hawkeyes have the depth to put out a strong opening to the lineup next year without the star transfer.
At the time of his graduation, Teasdale had rightfully joined Coleman Scott and Cary Kolat as true legends of Greene County high school wrestling. However, while Scott and Kolat both made seamless transitions into the college ranks, how the newest four-time PIAA state champ fares at the next level has yet to be determined.
Hopefully, the move to the Midwest will be the right one for Gavin Teasdale and return him to his meteoric rise to stardom.