FAIRMONT - Bill Tesdahl lived each day to its fullest potential. He played hard, he worked hard, and brought smiles to the faces of nearly every life that he ever touched.
Unfortunately, the former Fairmont High School football and wrestling standout died of unknown causes Wednesday at his home in Roseville. He was 41.
"I still can't believe he's gone. I'm waiting for someone to tell me that it's not true," said St. James High School head baseball coach Jon Wilson, a prep athletic teammate of Tesdahl. "Our class (1990) was a close-knit group, and he was the guy that lightened up our intense football practices under Coach (Tom) Mahoney.
"Last night, some of us were reminiscing about him, and everybody had a Tesdahl story that would make you laugh."
Fairmont classmate and sports teammate Lee Baarts echoed Wilson's sentiments via a telephone conversation on Thursday.
"No matter how bad things got in our lives, he (Tesdahl) always had a smile on his face and was in a good mood," said Baarts, a future 2013 Fairmont Athletic Hall of Fame inductee. "Wherever he was, he was the center of attention. He squeezed every ounce of life out of each day, and you can't say that about a lot of people."
Tesdahl also squeezed a lot of success out of his 170-pound frame during his prep playing days. The hard-charging nose tackle played an integral role in helping guide legendary mentor Tom Mahoney's Cardinals to the 1989 then-Class A state football quarterfinals.
"He may have been a prankster during football practice, but when he showed up under the lights on Friday nights, he could bring it on the field," said Baarts.
Tesdahl also proved a lethal force on the wrestling mat, capturing second place in his weight class at the regional tournament en route to a fourth-place medal at the state meet in 1989.
"He had one of the best headlocks in Fairmont's wrestling history. Once he popped it on, you were done," Wilson said in reference to Tesdahl's signature wrestling maneuver.
Tesdahl joined the Marines after high school and wrestled for his unit before competing in the ultimate fighting ranks in his 30s.
Tesdahl returned to his home state recently to manage an entertainment club in Minneapolis.
"Obviously, he will be missed, but we'll always have good memories to remember him by," said Wilson.