LION’S HEART: FD’s Teske commits to Penn State
Dodger star gives verbal commitment to Sanderson's national champion Nittany Lions
The natural assumption will go something like this: the minute Brody Teske received an offer from two-time defending national champion Penn State University and its iconic coach, Iowa State Cyclone legend Cael Sanderson, the Nittany Lions had the hardware and reputation to leave the Fort Dodge Senior High wrestler starstruck.
In reality, Teske’s verbal commitment to PSU represents his values as a person just as much as his potential – or the Nittany Lions’ prowess – on the mat.
Teske made his highly-anticipated decision official with a simple social-media message before school on Friday morning. The unbeaten state titleholder picked Penn State over Iowa, Iowa State, Minnesota and Northern Iowa.
“I really bought into the Penn State way of life when I made my official visit there (last month),” said Teske, who has a career record of 135-0 as FDSH’s first-ever three-time champ. “The way they handle things on and off the mat – that’s the way I envision myself. I want to be a part of it.
“Coach Sanderson has done everything there is to do in the sport, but he’s still so humble and down to earth. That really struck a chord with me. I think Penn State will turn me into a great wrestler, but an even better person. I want that balance, and that’s the vibe I got from (the program) and from Coach Sanderson especially.”
Teske took his time with the process, heightening the drama on what was already the most high-profile recruitment of a Dodger athlete in school history. The nation’s third-ranked 120-pounder was as meticulous and calculated in choosing a school as he is in a singlet, waiting until everything aligned before sealing the deal.
“It got kind of stressful, but time was on my side,” said Teske, who has been ranked anywhere from 25-35 recently on FloWrestling’s “Big Board” for the country’s overall Class of 2018. “Time was the best thing for me. I wanted to weigh my options, make sure I had everything in order, and not rush into the decision.
“It’s one I didn’t take lightly, especially considering how much I respect the schools (on Teske’s final list). They’re all great places with great coaching staffs, and I really appreciated everything about (the visits Teske made). There was a time when I pictured myself as a part of each program.”
Teske first went to State College in June after a third-place performance at the UWW Cadet and University Nationals in Akron, Ohio.
“We traveled a few extra hours (east) out of our way to check it out (as an unofficial visit),” said Teske, the state’s reigning Dan Gable Mr. Wrestler of the Year. “Cael had called me and said, ‘why don’t you come out here and see what you think.’ We had a good time, and I stayed in touch (with the PSU staff). Things really picked up after that.
“When I made my official visit (on Sept. 1), we flew out there, and that’s when it really started to seem like home. It just felt right. I remember working out by myself at the hotel room, running on a treadmill and looking out a big window overseeing downtown State College. My mind was racing. Then it hit me and it all got clear: this is what I want.”
Sanderson’s pitch helped seal the deal, but not because he flashed promises or bragged on his program, which has six national team crowns and 16 individual championships since Sanderson arrived in Happy Valley from Iowa State in 2010.
“It’s funny: you’re sitting across from Cael Sanderson, but you’d never guess it by the way he talks or treats people,” said Teske, who is projected to be a 125-pounder at PSU. “I mean, he’s accomplished the kind of stuff (wrestlers) could only dream of. But he doesn’t act like or expect to be treated like a star or a celebrity. He’s unassuming, which really connects with me.
“My dad (Danny, a former Dodger standout) and I just kept looking at each other during our breakfast and smiling. It was kind of a surreal feeling at first, but he makes you feel welcome pretty quick. I’m really excited to get out there and go to work.”
Teske’s senior year with nationally-ranked Fort Dodge Senior High starts next month. He will attempt to become just the 26th four-time state champ in Iowa high school history, and the only seventh to do so with an unblemished record.
The Super 32 in Greensboro, N.C. is on Teske’s immediate radar. He will compete against nearly 200 athletes from across the nation in his weight division at the end of this month.
Teske is the fourth Dodger grappler to commit to a Div. I program in the last calendar year alone. Sam Cook recently joined the Hawkeyes after spending a year with the Iowa football team. Triston Lara is a freshman at UNI, and his brother, Cayd, committed to Iowa State this past summer.
Drew Bennett – like Cayd Lara and Teske, a senior on the upcoming 2017-18 FDSH squad – is also currently being courted by a number of Div. I schools.
Having a fresh opportunity to reflect on his recruitment, Teske admitted “it changed my whole life.”
“I’ve matured mentally, physically and emotionally because of it,” Teske said. “I found out who I really am and what I want out of my life both as a wrestler and as a person moving forward. It’s really expanded my way of thinking and broadened my horizons. And it’s also been a good test to see who is truly in my corner.
“I’m very thankful for the support, and just want to (recognize) the Dodger community in particular. My coaches growing up, (FDSH head) Coach (Bobby) Thompson, (Dodger assistant) Tanner (Utley) and the rest of the staff, Carl Valley, Mark Rial, Luke Moffitt – there are just so many. More than anything, though, I have to thank God first and foremost, and my mom, dad, sister and family. My workout partners and the true friends who have been there for me; my buddies who helped push me and keep me in line. I am blessed to call Fort Dodge home.”