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New State High Boys Wrestling Coach

Jason Nickal boys wrestling coachThe State College Area High School boys’ wrestling program now has a legend at the helm.


On Monday, June 3, the SCASD Board of Directors approved Jason Nickal, who has six state team championship titles and 11 Coach of the Year awards, to be State High’s head coach. Having previously been the Little Lions’ assistant coach, Nickal will succeed Ryan Cummins, a former Penn State wrestler who resigned after 11 seasons.


“We’re fortunate that we have a rich history within our wrestling program, and the candidates we received for this open position were very strong,” State High Athletic Director Chris Weakland said. “Jason set himself apart from these candidates based on his experiences, knowledge, and overall vision for the growth of our program. It’s going to be exciting to work with him and see his vision come to life.”


Since 1994, Nickal has compiled a 264-43 overall dual record at five school districts in five states, guiding more than 40 wrestlers to individual state championships. He has won the National Wrestling Coaches Association State Coach of the Year award twice, and Regional Coach of the Year honors in 2009. In addition to being a director and coach on multiple USA National Teams, he earned copper and bronze coaching certifications while participating in the USA Wrestling Coaches College. In 2018, he was inducted into the Rio Rancho High School (Rio Rancho, NM) Coaches Hall of Fame.


“I’m excited to lead the wrestling program at State College High School,” Nickal said. “My vision is to build a culture of determination, teamwork, and continuous improvement. We will strive for success in every match, and together we’ll build a team that not only excels on the mat but also embodies the values of hard work, discipline, and sportsmanship.”


Possessing a Bachelor of Science in Natural Sciences degree from Chadron State College and a Masters in Educational Leadership from Walden University, Nickal has taught science during his educational career, including a stint as a high school science department chair. In the Paducah Public Schools district in Paducah, Ky., he served as the athletic director, overseeing 21 teams and 70 coaches, and as a high school assistant principal in charge of facilities and operations.


Nickal is also the father of Bo Nickal, a three-time national wrestling champion at Penn State and former freestyle wrestling champion who now competes professionally as a mixed martial artist.


By Chris Rosenblum
Photo by Nabil K. Mark
Published June 4, 2024