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Kennard-Dale High School graduate John Stefanowicz recently made a surprising run to earn a berth on Team USA for the 2019 World Greco-Roman Wrestling Championships in  Kazakhstan.

Once the 28-year-old Stefanowicz arrived in Kazakhstan, however, he found some rough sledding against some of the top wrestlers in the world.

Competing in the 82-kilogram (181-pound) class, Stefanowicz lost his first-round match to Lasha Gobadze of Georgia, 7-0. Gobadze went on to win the 82-kilogram gold medal.

Then, in the repechage (losers' bracket) round, Stefanowicz lost to China's Qian Haitao, 9-0. Haitao went on to win a bronze medal.

Stefanowicz is a 2009 K-D graduate and the older brother of K-D legend Chance Marsteller, who is the most decorated wrestler to ever emerge from York County. Marsteller was a four-time state champion for the Rams who finished his scholastic career at 166-0. Marsteller eventually became a two-time college All-American.

Unlike, Marsteller, Stefanowicz didn't excel at the high school level while wrestling at 125 pounds. He never qualified for a PIAA state tournament.  After graduating from high school, however, Stefanowicz joined the armed services and is now a U.S. Marine sergeant based in Jacksonville, North Carolina.

Since leaving K-D, Stafanowicz has matured significantly, packing on more than 50 pounds, and has become one of the top Greco-Roman wrestlers in the nation.

At the U.S. Team Trials in early June, Stefanowicz won five straight matches to advance to the Final X. He then won both of those matches, surprising two-time U.S. Open champ Kendrick Sanders. 

That performance earned Stefanowicz a berth in this past weekend's world championships.

In Greco-Roman competition, wrestlers can't score points for any moves or attacks below the waist.

— Reach Steve Heiser at sheiser@yorkdispatch.com.

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