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Penn State Wrestling

Father of Penn State Wrestling Legend Expected to be Hired at State College High

Photo by Penn State Athletics: Bo Nickal

It looks like the next wrestling coach at State College Area High School will be none other than the father of one of the greatest in Penn State history.

Per the agenda for State High’s Monday, June 3 school board meeting, which became public Friday, May 31, the board is expected to approve the hiring of Jason Nickal as head wrestling coach, succeeding former Penn State wrestler Ryan Cummins.

Pat Mineo of The Wrestling Room reported earlier this week that State College was expected to hire Nickal.

Penn State fans know the Nickal name mainly because of Jason’s son, Bo Nickal, who won three national titles and the 2019 Hodge Trophy (wrestling’s Heisman) at PSU. After college, Bo Nickal embarked on an MMA career, which has led him to his current status as a rising UFC star.

But what about Jason Nickal?

Jason Nickal played college football at Chardon State before embarking on a coaching career in wrestling. From there, he went onto coach the sport for more than a quarter century, serving as Bo’s coach until he got to Penn State, where Cael Sanderson took over.

Nickal led his teams to 10 state titles and coached more than 55 individual champions. He won 11 Coach of the Year awards, including National Wrestling Coaches Association State Coach of the Year twice.

For his work at Rio Rancho (New Mexico)— where Bo started his high school before the family moved to Allen, Texas— Jason Nickal is in the school’s Hall of Fame.

Now, barring something unforeseen, he’ll be taking over a State College program located in the backyard of what many feel is the capital of wrestling. State High’s 2024-25 team is set to be led by Penn State commit Asher Cunningham, son of Penn State’s head assistant coach, Casey Cunningham.

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