LOCK HAVEN — After some bumps in the road, Chance Marsteller is thriving in his new home.
It's referred to by many as Mat Town USA, but it's better known as Lock Haven University.
Following an outstanding career at Kennard-Dale High School, that produced four PIAA state titles and a 166-0 career record, and an abbreviated stop at Oklahoma State University, Marsteller is experiencing the college success with the Bald Eagles that nearly everyone had predicted for him.
“I just came back here because I wanted to be closer to home,” the 2014 K-D graduate said. “I knew I needed a school that was a little smaller, that was more hands on and personal. Lock Haven offered me the opportunity and I felt it was just the right fit for me.”
The road at Lock Haven hasn’t always been smooth for Marsteller. Before he ever wrestled a college match for the Bald Eagles, there was a well-publicized off-mat incident that led to his being removed from the program for a time.
He eventually avoided both prison and any felony convictions for an August, 2016, incident at Lock Haven during which he exposed himself in public and attacked the officers who arrested him.
Marsteller had a blood alcohol content that was more than three times the legal limit for driving and also had marijuana and cocaine in his system, according to court documents.
Marsteller, after completing substance-abuse rehabilitation, was sentenced to seven years of probation and was ordered to perform 350 hours of community service and pay a $1,000 fine.
That followed the brief stint at Oklahoma State. When he started with the Cowboys, he was rated the top college wrestling recruit in the nation, according to some experts. His career with Oklahoma State, however, never took off. He was eventually suspended from the Cowboys' wrestling program for unspecified reasons before leaving the program and eventually transferring to Lock Haven in 2016.
A second chance: Now, however, Marsteller is happy to have been given a second chance at Lock Haven and he is making the most of the opportunity.
“I feel very fortunate and am blessed with the opportunity to have this experience and I try to make the most of it every day,” Marsteller said. “All of the things that happened to me during the last year made me realize that if you do good things, good things will happen for you. I always thought I was a pretty good person who just needed to clean up some of his extracurricular activities. When you do that, it helps you to focus on your priorities, and the experience for me has been a real life changer.”
Stellar season: Marsteller opened the 2017-18 season with 22 straight wins. until he dropped a close decision to Bryce Steiret of Northern Iowa in the prestigious Southern Scuffle before coming back to finish third. Since that time, he has racked up 13 more consecutive wins to sit at 35-1 heading down the home stretch of the 2017-18 season. He was ranked No. 4 nationally in NCAA Division I at 165 pounds in the latest Intermat rankings.
With the way things have gone for him, Marsteller is happy with where he stands.
“For the most part, I like where I am at this point in the season,” Marsteller said. “College wrestling season is a long season and a real grind. It has had its ups and downs, but I guess that will happen in most any season at the college level. There are definitely improvements to be made as we approach the end-of-the-season tournaments. (Lock Haven) Coach (Scott) Moore has done a good job of getting me ready for it and when we are done with this little dual-meet stretch that we are in right now, I think I will be where I need to be heading toward nationals (the NCAA Division I Tournament).”
Big win: While winning his four PIAA state titles, Marsteller was involved in a number of big and hotly contested matches, and just recently he put another notch in his belt when he handily defeated two-time All-American Chad Walsh of Rider.
“I would say that was my biggest win thus far, and for me, it is just a matter of preparation,” Marsteller said. “I take every match as a big match when I go into it and I believe in my training. When you step out on the mat and open up, good things happen. That is what I did in that match and I plan on doing that same thing when I battle a number of other top-five guys over the next six weeks.”
Coach lauds Marsteller: So what does Marsteller bring to the table for the Bald Eagle program, both on and off the mat?
“Having a guy like Chance on the team adds a lot of experience and knowledge to the sport,” Moore said. “He was not only successful in the sport in high school, but he was his own mentor as far as running club practices. Just his overall knowledge and experience have added a lot of depth to our program. Whether it is hard work in the wrestling room breaking down technique or winning matches for us, he is just a consistent guy who we can rely on to score points. When he goes on the mat, he has the ability to get the momentum going and get the crowd into the match. When he does that, it spills over to the rest of our guys in the lineup.”
More to come: The story is still far from finished for Marsteller, who is currently competing for the Bald Eagles as a redshirt junior.
Stay tuned, because there's a good chance more good things are to come from Marsteller as he continues his career as a Bald Eagle wrestler.
Reach Bill Albright at firstname.lastname@example.org.