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HEISER: Kennard-Dale grad Chance Marsteller may finally fulfill All-America potential

Steve Heiser
York Dispatch
  • Kennard-Dale grad Chance Marsteller will compete in the NCAA Division I Wrestling Championships.
  • The event will be held Thursday through Saturday in Cleveland, Ohio.
  • Marsteller enters with a 40-2 record. He is seeded No. 9 in the 165-pound class.
  • Marsteller is a redshirt junior at Lock Haven University.

This week, Chance Marsteller will get his opportunity to excel on the biggest stage in college wrestling.

Kennard-Dale High School graduate Chance Marsteller, seen here in action earlier this season for Lock Haven, is ranked No. 5 in the nation at 165 pounds by Intermat. He will compete in the NCAA Division I Championships this week in Cleveland, Ohio. BIL BOWDEN PHOTO

The Kennard-Dale High School graduate will finally compete in the NCAA Division I Championships, set for Thursday through Saturday at Quicken Loans Arena in Cleveland, Ohio.

When Marsteller left the Fawn Grove school four years ago, he was a mythic figure in Pennsylvania wrestling circles after winning four PIAA state crowns and compiling an unblemished high school record of 166-0.

In 2014, he was regarded by many as the No. 1 wrestling recruit in America. He originally gave a verbal commitment to Cael Sanderson's powerhouse Penn State program, before changing his mind and signing with another wrestling power at Oklahoma State.

When he left K-D, nearly every wrestling fan expected that Marsteller would become a four-year participant at the NCAA competition. Most would have predicted that he would earn multiple All-America honors and possibly even multiple national titles.

Chance Marsteller making most of second chance

A lot has happened to Marsteller in the intervening years — and much of it, unfortunately for him, was not good.

Some well-publicized off-the-mat problems, including some serious criminal issues, threatened to derail his collegiate career completely. His difficulties apparently were aggravated by substance-abuse woes.

Local wrestling champion Marsteller avoids prison

Marsteller, however, has gone through rehab, paid his debt to society and has apparently gotten his life, and his wrestling career, back on track.

After struggling for a couple of years at Oklahoma State, Marsteller has found new life closer to home at Lock Haven.

All-American potential: Now, four years after leaving York County, Marsteller finally appears poised to fulfill the All-America potential that was long predicted for him.

If the latest Intermat national rankings hold true to form this week in Ohio, the redshirt junior will become a college All-American — at last. And even though Marsteller’s chances of winning a national title appear relatively remote, it is not beyond the realm of possibility.

Marsteller will enter action in the 165-pound class ranked No. 5 in the nation by Intermat. The top eight finishers in each weight class earn All-America recognition.

Seeded No. 9: The folks who did the seeding for the NCAA, however, were not as impressed with Marsteller’s 40-2 record thus far this season with the Bald Eagles. He is seeded No. 9 for the NCAA meet.

A 2-1 loss in the Eastern Wrestling League finals to Rider’s Chad Walsh likely hurt his seeding. Marsteller had beaten Walsh earlier in the season, 8-4. Walsh, a two-time All-American, is ranked No. 4 by Intermat and is seeded No. 4 by the NCAA. Walsh’s only loss in in 25 bouts this season came to Marsteller.

Chance Marsteller

Marsteller’s NCAA debut comes Thursday morning against Indiana’s Bryce Martin, who is unseeded and has a 15-8 record. A win there will likely earn Marsteller a second-round match-up Thursday night vs. his former teammate at Oklahoma State, Chandler Rogers (20-3), who is seeded No. 8. That toss-up match could be a make-or-break contest if Marsteller wants to become an All-American.

A stacked class: The 165 class overall looks stacked. The top three seeds are Illinois’ Isaiah Martinez (14-0) at No. 1, Virginia Tech’s David McFadden (31-0) at No. 2 and Penn State’s Vincenzo Joseph (20-2) at No. 3.

Martinez is a three-time All-American and won NCAA titles in 2015 and 2016 at 157 pounds.  McFadden, of course, is unbeaten and is a former All-American. And Joseph is the defending champion at 165 after beating Martinez in last year’s title match.

If Marsteller can win his first two matches on Thursday, a quarterfinal showdown with Martinez on Friday morning is highly probable.

Surviving that gauntlet to win a national title would appear unlikely, but nothing is impossible when talking about a wrestler with as much experience and talent as Marsteller possesses.

Dripping with drama: Still, simply becoming an All-American this season would be a tremendous achievement for the former Ram, especially considering the self-inflicted trials and tribulations he has overcome to get to Cleveland.

It should be a fascinating drama to watch unfold over the next few days. Wrestling fans in York County and beyond will follow it intently.

They will all have one question in mind: Can the high school legend finally fulfill his All-America potential on college wrestling's biggest stage?

The answer will come in a few days.

Steve Heiser is sports editor of The York Dispatch. He can be reached at sheiser@yorkdispatch.com.