Senior-level stalemate for young phenom’s big plans

Updated: November 15, 2011

By Willie Saylor, WIN Staff

I was scribbling down notes on the bout we were watching and chewing the fat with Iowa State assistant coach Yero Washington on the floor of the Super 32 two years ago.

After a couple matches, Yero says, “I’ll catch up with you a little later. I’m going to check out this eighth grader. I’ve been hearing good things.”


Chance Marsteller defeated Cody Allala of Virginia for the 160-pound championship at the recent Super 32 tournament in Greensboro, N.C.

I followed along. If a successful Division I wrestler and a coach at one of the country’s premier programs was intrigued by a junior high kid, I was too.

That was my introduction to Chance Marsteller.

Since then, and despite wrestling in just one high school season, Marsteller is perhaps the biggest name in high school wrestling. His hype started early; he wrestled in high school and college competitions when he was in junior high, and local papers near his southern Pennsylvania town, Kennard-Dale, ran several features detailing his exploits on the mat.

The burgeoning star trained across the border in Maryland at Cary Kolat’s club. So it makes sense that Marsteller’s silhouette mirrors Kolat’s in stature, and, at this rate, legacy.

Early Success

Prior to his freshman year, Marsteller went 20-0 in Cadet Duals, followed by a fourth-place showing in Greco and a national freestyle championship in Fargo.

In his first season in high school, Marsteller had a perfect season, going undefeated and winning titles at the Powerade and state tournaments, a rarity for a freshman in Pennsylvania.

This summer, he dominated Cadet competition again, posting an 18-0 record across both styles at Cadet Duals, while not surrendering a single point in any bout.

At Fargo, he won double titles at 152 pounds.

 Rare Prodigy, Rare Designs

Even beyond his illustrious resume at this point, Marsteller stands out among past superstars who were billed as ‘the next big thing’.  There is a sort of aura about him.

Recognized by the U.S. staff, Marsteller was invited to the Olympic Training Center in Colorado Springs this summer. By all accounts, he drew rave reviews wrestling against some of the top Senior-level athletes our country has to offer.

Marsteller has often stated that the international styles of Greco-Roman and freestyle are much more to his liking than the sport’s folkstyle counterpart. So it was of little surprise that 16 year-old declared that he’d like to compete at the 2012 Olympic Team Trials.

What did catch people off guard was his post-championship interview on the floor of the Fargodome in which he stated that it was likely his last trip to Fargo, and that it was a real possibility that he would forego his high school eligibility and instead head to the OTC to train full-time.

Grand Plans Delayed

Many rabid wrestling fans followed the registration list for the Super 32 as it was populated on-line leading up to the tournament on Oct. 30

Marsteller was registered at 152 pounds, the same weight he competed at last season and the weight in which he won his double Fargo titles this summer. So, no surprise there.

However, when he showed up to Greensboro and weighed in for the 160lb bracket, there were a few questions raised.

Did Chance just not feel like cutting weight? Was he wrestling 160 for better competition? Did he do it for more of a challenge?

Turns out, there was more to the story.

With aspirations of competing at the Olympic Team Trials at 66 kg (145.5 pounds), it was Marsteller’s approach to keep his weight within that range by wrestling 152 at high school tournaments. New developments, however, had changed things.

In September, Marsteller was informed that, because of his age, he would be precluded from competition at senior-level events.

Gone were the opportunities to wrestle at the Olympic Team Trials and by competing at qualifiers such as Sunkist and the New York AC’s (tourney).

Disappointed to say the least, Marsteller no longer feels it an immediate necessity to keep his weight in range of the 145.5 pounds he was intending to wrestle.

At Super 32, despite wrestling up at 160 pounds, Marsteller tore through a field that featured eight other nationally-ranked wrestlers. In the quarters, he majored California state runner-Up Victor Peirera, before pinning Fargo Junior Greco champ, Geordan Speiller in three minutes.

For most high schoolers, a Super 32 belt is one of the crown jewels of the sport.

For a wrestler with more grander plans, it was the consolation of a more immediate task at hand.

Future Chance

Chance now turns to an attempt to put himself in the history book of Pennsylvania lore. With being ineligible to wrestle on the Senior circuit, his goal is to join four other wrestlers to go undefeated with four state titles in the Keystone State.

The last?

You guessed it: Cary Kolat in 1992.