Collin Gaj loses undefeated streak in US Championships

The sophomore, who finished the PIAA season 49-0 and with the 145-pound title, went 3-2 against the nation's top high school wrestlers.
Posted on 05/02/2023
Collin Gaj won three of five matches at the Under 17 US Open Wrestling Championships in Las Vegas.By Gary Weckselblatt

It’s been a long time between losses for Collin Gaj, the Quakertown Community High School sophomore who captured the PIAA 145-pound championship and finished the season with a 49-0 record.

During last weekend’s Under 17 US Open Wrestling Championships in Las Vegas, wrestling against the nation’s top high school grapplers, Collin won his first three matches, 10-0, 10-6, and 14-4. Then, for the first time in more than a year, the referee lifted the arm of Collin’s opponent. He lost a 5-4 decision and, in the blood round, he fell 14-8 to Gavin Linsman, who he defeated a day earlier.

The second loss bounced him from qualifying for the US team that will compete in the World Championships in Turkey this summer.

“The results don’t lie,” Collin said. “Traveling is always a good experience, and I’m always grateful to compete. But it’s pretty disappointing for me. My goal is always to win. And I’m pretty confident I’m going to win. It’s been a long time since I lost, and I’ll be thankful for the opportunity to see how I can bounce back.”

QCHS wrestling coach Kurt Handel was proud of Collin’s effort, which placed him 12th in the nation in the 65kg (approximately 143 pounds) weight class. “He wrestled in front of every Division I school,” Mr. Handel said. “So for him to be wrestling there and finish in the top 12 is quite amazing. It opens doors for him.”

The coach said Collin’s recent growth spurt made it a challenge to get down to 143 pounds and he was feeling “the side effects” of making weight. For his part, Collin said he hasn’t been 143 “in a while.” He wrestled about five pounds heavier most of the year. The next weight class in nationals is 71kg, about 157 pounds, a significant jump. “It was a pretty bad cut for me,” Collin said. “Wish I stayed up. Sometimes you learn the hard way.”

He’ll have more opportunities to wrestle against the nation’s best high school wrestlers this summer. And he looks forward to competing, and winning.

“I hold myself to a pretty high standard,” Collin said. “I’m not going to forget these losses. I’ll learn from them and try to put them in the past.”

Gary Weckselblatt, QCSD Director of Communications, writes about the people and the programs that impact the Quakertown Community School District. He can be reached at 215-529-2028 or [email protected].
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