Weir’s Rea Stuns No. 3 Teasdale

Photo by Kim North Weir’s Caleb Rea, top, tangles with Jefferson Morgan’s Gavin Teasdale at the annual Ohio Coatings Panther Classic Invitational.

CONNORVILLE — Caleb Rea had heard the talk all day long inside Buckeye Local High School. Not many high school wrestling gurus thought the Weir senior could beat Jefferson Morgan’s Gavin Teasdale in the 132-pound weight class at the annual Ohio Coatings Panther Classic Invitational.

He ignored all the distractions and let his skills do the talking on the mat with a stunning 8-4 decision over the Rams’ senior, who entered the tournament ranked No. 3 in the nation, according to the latest InterMat rankings, at 120.

“Everyone kept telling me ‘man, you’ve got Gavin Teasdale. I don’t think you’re going to be able to pull off that win by any means,'” Rea said while being congratulated by most of those non-believers. “I was like, well I’ve gotten pretty good at wrestling past the hype. The same thing with (Oak Glen’s) Peyton (Hall). He’s a good wrestler and he’s beaten me two times in the past.

“In the OVAC finals, I took it to him,” said Rea, who defeated Hall 5-4 last month. “Same thing (Saturday).

“This is where I want to be … at the top. I realized Thursday (Teasdale) was going to be in my weight. I was like, I don’t care. If I want to be the best in college and be at the top of the podium, those are the kind of guys I have to beat. Gavin is a great wrestler. We wrestle on the same club team. He’s an amazing wrestler, but (Saturday) I was better than him.”

Teasdale, who suffered just his second loss in his highly decorated scholastic career against 160-plus wins, took a 2-0 lead with an early takedown, only to see the energetic Rea quickly escape. Rea gained the upperhand with a takedown just ahead of the first-period buzzer, 3-1.

Rea deferred his choice of position to start the second period. Teasdale, who verbally committed to Iowa before switching to Penn State, went ahead 4-3 with a reversal, but Rea managed to escape with just under 20 seconds left to knot the match after two periods.

A four-point third period sealed the deal and allowed Rea to celebrate as the crowd went crazy.

“The key to victory was keeping my mind,” Rea noted. “I had to keep my mind right. You can’t let that get into your head ‘what if I lose?’ I’m going out there like it’s practice. I’m just out here trying to perform and compete at my best. That’s what I did today.”

Veteran Weir coach Tom Taylor was just happy to be along for the ride.

“That was so fun just to be a part of that,” he said. “A lot of people were surprised, but not me. I’m never surprised by Caleb because when you have a kid that works that hard, and is that dedicated, you expect things like that to happen.”

Teasdale’s other setback came in the POWERade Finals to Wyoming Seminary freshman Beau Bartlett.

Rea, who was voted the Gary Glover Most Outstanding Wrestler by tournament coaches, was the lone Ohio Valley Athletic Conference wrestler to win a title. There were eight runnersup, including Wheeling Park’s tandem of Canon Welker (126) and Dylan Wood (220). The banged-up Patriots (125.5) finished third in the team race behind West Allegheny (168.5) and North Allegheny (130).

“I’m pleased with the way we wrestled,” Wheeling Park head coach Clay Tucker said. “We’re banged up but we had some young kids step up today.”

Other second-place finishers were St. Clairsville’s twosome of Koen Kish (113) and Derek Witsberger (195); Indian Creek’s duo of Mitch Wukelic (145) and Logan Wilson (170); Bridgeport’s Tino Kusic (160); and Martins Ferry’s Hunter Bodkin (285).

Winning titles were West Allegheny’s Jordan Watters (113), Dante Flati (145), Ty McGeary (152), Dan Clements (170) and Rocky McGeary (220); Warren Local’s Peyten Kellar (106) ; North Allegheny’s Freddy Junko (120) and Jon Hoover (160); Newcomerstown’s Logan Hursey (126); Dublin Scioto’s Daniel Segura (138) and Deron Pulliam (182); Chartiers Valley’s Shamil Zaynullaev (195); and West Mifflin’s Gerald Brown (285).