Chance Marsteller falls short of world team berth, but takes USA wrestling legend to brink
Chance Marsteller was facing one of the greatest challenges of his standout wrestling career on Wednesday night.
Competing at the storied Madison Square Garden, the Kennard-Dale High School graduate was attempting to take down a legend in American freestyle wrestling — five-time world champion Jordan Burroughs.
The winner would qualify for the World Wrestling Championships.
In the end, Marsteller fell just a bit short in the best-of-three Final X competition in the 79-kilogram (174-pound) class at MSG’s Hulu Theater in New York.
Marsteller, however, forced Burroughs to the brink before falling, 2-1.
Burroughs won the first match, 4-0, but couldn’t close out Marsteller in the second match, falling 2-2 on criteria.
Burroughs, a former Olympic gold medalist, then won the final match over Marsteller, 5-0. He scored one minute in on a stepout and added two more stepouts in the final 35 seconds of the period, including one at the buzzer for a 3-0 lead at the break. A takedown with 1:33 to go put Burroughs ahead 5-0.
After Burroughs qualified for his 11th World Wrestling Championships on Wednesday night, he confirmed afterwards that there won’t be many more, saying no matter what happens the next two years he will retire from the sport after the 2024 Olympic Games — or before if he fails to qualify.
A surprise to even get to New York: The fact that Marsteller even made it to the Final X competition was a bit of a surprise.
The Titan Mercury Club wrestler earned his spot in New York with one of his best-ever performances to win a stacked 79-kilogram division at the World Team Trials Challenge at the Xtream Arena in Coralville, Iowa, in late May.
That event featured an elite field packed with Olympic hopefuls, as well as past and present NCAA Division I champions.
In the best-of-three finals in Iowa, Marsteller earned a 2-1 victory over former Penn State great Vincenzo Joseph, who won two NCAA D-I titles with the Nittany Lions. Marsteller won the opening match 4-0, before Joseph rebounded with a 6-2 verdict in the second match. Marsteller then won the deciding match, 7-2.
Marsteller enjoyed one of the great high school careers in Pennsylvania wrestling history, going 166-0 with four state championships.
In college, after some well-publicized legal and drug issues and a transfer from Oklahoma State, Marsteller became a two-time NCAA D-I All-American at Lock Haven.
Other action from New York: Olympic gold medalist David Taylor and three-time world champion Kyle Dake joined Burroughs as notable winners Wednesday at the Hulu Theaters.
The 14 winners on Wednesday in men’s and women’s freestyle and Greco-Roman wrestling qualified for the World Championships in Belgrade, Serbia from Sept. 10-18.
Dake won a star-studded 74 kilogram series against Penn State three-time national champion Jason Nolf in two straight matches, 4-2 and 2-1.
After a slow start in the first match, Taylor turned it on to beat Zahid Valencia in the night’s marquee matchup at 86 kilograms, 4-2 and 10-0.
Among the other winners on Wednesday in New York were Olympic gold medalist Helen Maroulis (women’s 57kg freestyle) and Olympic medalist Sarah Hildebrandt (women’s 50kg freestyle).
The other Final X winners on Wednesday were: Dom Parrish (men’s freestyle, 53kg), Yianni Diakomihalis (men’s freestyle, 65kg), Hayden Zillmer (men’s freestyle, 125kg), Ildar Hafizov (men’s Greco, 60kg), Alejandro Sancho (men’s Greco, 67kg), Kamal Bey (men’s Greco, 77kg), Alan Vera (men’s Greco, 87kg), G’Angelo Hancock (men’s Greco, 97kg) and Amit Elor (women’s freestyle, 72kg).
Combined with the 15 winners of Final X Stillwater last Friday, 29 of the 30 members of the 2022 U.S. Senior World Team have now been determined.
Reach Steve Heiser at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter at @ydsports. Bill Evans from nj.com (TNS) contributed to this report.