Kennard-Dale wrestler Chance Marsteller signs autographs for young fans after earning his second state crown last March in Hershey. The standout is glad to
Kennard-Dale wrestler Chance Marsteller signs autographs for young fans after earning his second state crown last March in Hershey. The standout is glad to share his knowledge of the sport with others. (File photo)

The group of nearly three dozen wrestlers sat wide-eyed Wednesday night on a mat inside the West York High School gymnasium.

Their gaze was locked on the instructor in front of them. At one point, the group collectively groaned at what they had just witnessed.

The instructor, Kennard-Dale High School wrestler Chance Marsteller, had just taken West York's Garrett Stauffer down to the mat in one swift motion.

"You have to hook the arm, step forward and punch the wall," Marsteller said before demonstrating the move a couple more times.

Asked to stop by an open gym wrestling session by West York junior varsity coach Wilmer Pressel, Marsteller jumped at the opportunity.

"They know who he is," West York head coach Brian Gross said. "They know that face but probably never get a chance to talk to him or be in the same room as him."

Having the group of wrestlers, who ranged from elementary level to high school level, learn from someone who is widely considered the best nationally in his weight class is an opportunity Gross and Pressel jumped at. Even if Marsteller's summer may not have gone exactly as planned.

Injury: The two-time defending state champion is just getting over a dislocated right elbow. Marsteller, 17, suffered the injury in August against a Ukrainian wrestler in the semifinals of the Cadet World Championships in Azerbaijan, a country located on the northern border of Iran. It marked Marsteller's first international tournament of his career.

"I was out for about two months," Marsteller said. "I got really lucky. There were no tears or anything."

The junior Rams' grappler said the injury may have come at a good time.

"For the most part I took a good break. I was wrestling for almost a year straight without a break," he said.

The world tournament followed two previous tournaments Marsteller competed in earlier this year. He qualified for the world tournament in July by dominating the Cadet Freestyle Nationals at 167 pounds.

Tough losses: That made up for a pair of poor performances a few months before in Wisconsin, where Marsteller attempted to qualify for the Junior World Championships. He lost to wrestlers from the University of Iowa and the University of Pennsylvania.

"I truly don't think I should've went to Wisconsin. Not because I had a bad showing but because I had pneumonia or bronchitis," Marsteller said. "But I had already scheduled to go to it. Already bought the plane tickets. I figured let's go wrestle and maybe by the time I get out there I'd be feeling better."

He later spent time preparing for the world tournament at the Olympic Training Center in Colorado Springs.

Still perfect: Practice begins Friday for the upcoming 2012-2013 high school season, where Marsteller will try to improve on his 85-0 high school mark and become a three-time champion in the District 3 and PIAA tournaments. He'll also use the remainder of the school year to narrow down his college choices, a subject he's weary of discussing.

"I'll make a verbal commitment next summer and sign my letter of intent next fall," he said.

And like he told the group Wednesday night, he'll continue to work toward his ultimate goal -- an Olympic gold medal.

-- Reach John Walk at jwalk@yorkdispatch.com.