Chance Marsteller may have sent a message Wednesday night.
The Kennard-Dale High School graduate will likely be a title contender when the NCAA Division I Wrestling Championships are held in March in Pittsburgh.
The Lock Haven University standout gave defending national champion Vincenzo Joseph a down-to-the-wire battle in the 165-pound title match at the prestigious Southern Scuffle in Chattanooga, Tennessee.
In the end, Joseph escaped with a 6-5 triumph that helped top-ranked Penn State cruise to the event’s team championship with a tournament-record 216.5 points. Oklahoma State (188.5) was second and Iowa State (104) was third, followed by Stanford (82.5) and Navy (75.5).
Marsteller’s second-place finish, meanwhile, helped No. 14 Lock Haven to its best-ever team Scuffle finish. The Bald Eagles took sixth with 71. 5 points.
The Scuffle main event: Marsteller, who finished fourth in last year’s NCAA meet at 165, entered the tournament ranked third nationally, while Joseph, a two-time NCAA champion, came in ranked No. 1. With the top-two seeds at 165 advancing to the final, it was decided that Marsteller and Joseph would cap the championship session as the tournament’s main event. The Marsteller-Joseph showdown did not disappoint, more than living up to the advance hype.
Marsteller trailed 2-1 after one period and 4-3 after two and started the third period in the down position. Marsteller scored on a quick escape to tie the match 4-4 early in the final period. A late Joseph takedown stretched the lead to 6-4 and ultimately led to him edging Marsteller, despite Marsteller's relentless effort and ability to push the pace down the stretch.
Marsteller finished the two-day tournament at 3-1. He entered the tournament at 7-0 and is now 10-1 overall on the season.
In the semifinals, Marsteller used a last-second takedown in the third period to seal a hard-fought 3-1 victory over No. 3 seed Chandler Rogers of Oklahoma State.
Marsteller's spot in the finals marked the Bald Eagles' first Scuffle finalist since 2006 when Seth Martin won the title, the only individual Scuffle title in LHU history.
PSU impressive: The defending national champion Nittany Lions, meanwhile, rolled to the team title thanks to crowning six individual champions.
In addition to Joseph, the Nittany Lions got titles from Nick Lee (141), Jason Nolf (157), Mark Hall (174), Shakur Rasheed (184) and Bo Nickal (197).
Nolf became Penn State's all-time pins leader and Nickal pinned his way to the crown and his second Scuffle Outstanding Wrestler Award.
Twelve of Penn State's 18 entrants at the event placed. There have now been 15 Scuffles. PSU has won it eight times.
Reach Steve Heiser at email@example.com.