By Omar Feliciano
High School Correspondent
Chance Marsteller has always been someone to watch. Even as early as 2004, Marsteller had a physique most wrestlers his age would dream about having. Stocky and compact, but with a closely trimmed batch of red hair atop his head. Marsteller’s trademark singlet in his youth days was a basic black singlet, with yellow piping around the waist. With a carefree attitude, Marsteller is rarely upset win or lose, and he has been winning a lot more than he’s been losing his entire wrestling career.
Marsteller’s been on the national radar since entering the Penn State Open as an eighth-grader where he actually won a match against college competition. Marsteller earned the right to represent the United States on the World stage after winning the 2012 FILA Cadet Nationals in April in Akron, Ohio.
At the World Championships, Marsteller’s medal hopes were dashed as he dislocated his elbow in the semifinals. The injury will leave the two-time undefeated Pennsylvania state champion from Kennard-Dale High School out of action for a while. At 83-0, he’s entering rare territory in wrestling-rich Pennsylvania. We had a chance to talk with Marsteller about the injury he sustained at the Cadet World Championships in Baku, Azerbaijan, and where his season and wrestling career will go from here.
In your first International tournament, how did you feel going in and how did you prepare?
I felt confident going into the Worlds and felt for sure it was my tournament. I felt I could win it. I don’t have the mentality that a lot of our U.S. guys have where they worry about wrestling the Russian or Azerbaijani or whoever. I just go out there and wrestle whoever is out there. I didn’t try to psych myself out. As far as training, I called some guys in to train with me in my barn, I went to Olympic team camp. I did a lot of circuit workouts, explosion type training, running, and shadow wrestling.
What were you expecting going into the Worlds and were you nervous?
I really don’t get nervous, I get anxious to start wrestling and producing results. I want to get the results done with and just perform. Walking into the arena at first was a little overwhelming, it was a huge arena and the stands were big. I saw the arena the day before I started wrestling, so it wasn’t that bad once it was my turn. I’ve wrestled on big stages before so it didn’t psych me out. Second day of wrestling wasn’t an issue.
I’ve heard that at the international level, especially World Championships, matches come quickly? Were you ready for that?
I was ready for the quick back-to-back matches. The match in the quarters came 15 minutes after I had just wrestled and my semi match was about 10 minutes after my quarters match. I also heard and knew about this and trained for it. While at the Olympic Training Center we trained for this type of thing. It is definitely different, but I was prepared.
How do you assess your performance before the semifinal match?
I was wrestling solid up until that point. I was turning guys pretty good. My quarters match against the kid from Turkey was a little funky in second period, but I really felt it was my gold medal.
The Ukrainian looked a lot bigger than you, had you seen him before wrestling him?
Yeah, he was pretty big. The Ukrainian and the Russian were two biggest kids in the weight class.
I watched the match and noticed that it was a kind of back and forth match, where you were the aggressor.
Yeah, I usually take the first period to feel out my opponent — it took me a while to figure him out. I feel I get stronger as my matches go on and would have come alive in second period if I hadn’t gotten hurt. This is where I’m at my best. I’ve noticed Eastern Europeans tank out pretty fast and felt it would have been my match. I was in on about six shots in the first period and just didn’t finish my takedowns.
How is the elbow?
The elbow feels good, I just started rehabbing and should be able to start drilling again in about three weeks to a month. I should be at full strength in about a month and a half, so I won’t be going to Super 32.
Do you think the injury will affect your wrestling?
I have dislocated my other elbow before and you can’t really think about it. Sometimes when kids get hurt they change. I can’t think about it and can’t be scared when I get into my tie-ups. I just have to go out there and wrestle and keep doing the things that I’m good at. I don’t change my mentality.
What have you taken away from the Worlds?
Azerbaijani food wasn’t too good (laughing). It was a great experience. I learned a lot about their culture and got to see other parts of world a lot of people don’t get to see. I took away some technique as I was watching matches.
What do you think you need to improve on?
I feel I need to keep working on my top game. For folkstyle, I have to start working on exploding to my feet from bottom. On my feet, I just have to work on getting momentum from match to match.
Is Rio 2016 in your plans?
For sure. I want to get through high school first and get to college. I’m going to mature and grow over the next couple of years and as I get to college. Getting into college, my body might change, so I plan on lifting more and developing my body. I don’t know exactly where I’m going to be at that time. I plan on Olympic redshirting when the time comes. It’s a long way away, so I’m just trying to focus on finishing high school and getting to college.
I know you were a Kolat wrestler growing up, who do you train with now?
I train by myself at my house. I don’t have a club or club coach right now. I usually just bring guys in and work out in my barn. I haven’t had a technician for a while. I bring in kids from Pennsylvania and Maryland, sometimes college kids.
What is a normal training session like with Chance Marsteller? Who is your training partner?
On a normal wrestling day, I do a basic warm up for about 10-20 minutes. I go through some drilling, getting in on leg attacks, then go over finishing, go over top and bottom positions, and then I might do some live and situational goes. I might go over some scrambling drills and finish up with conditioning. Some days I will do all live, some days just drilling, some positioning, every day is different.
Who is your favorite wrestler domestic or international?
That’s a good question. I really never thought of that. Umm…I really don’t have one. I might have to wrestle one of these guys one day so I don’t really see them that way. I don’t have one.
The best match I ever saw you wrestle was in Tulsa, Okla., when you were about 10 or 11 and in the finals, where you lost in overtime. What is the most memorable match you have had in your career?
The match I feel changed things around for me was a freestyle match. I was wrestling in a freestyle dual against a kid who was a senior, state champ. I was in 7th grade, he was in high school, top 10 in nation. We wrestled in May and the match went to the third period. I was wrestling smart and was down by one. The kid took a shot and I reshot and put him on his back and stuck him. This changed things for me.
What is your opinion about the direction USA wrestling is going?
I think USA wrestling is headed in the right direction, we have done well at Worlds, taking third, we also took third at the Olympics. Being out at the OTC, they are getting high school kids more involved for the future and doing a great job of getting everyone on board. We have a great generation of wrestlers coming up right now.
What is one thing you would change about the USA wrestling program?
I don’t think I would change anything at this point, I haven’t really thought about it. I think USA wrestling should have more big time freestyle tournaments for high school kids throughout the year. It would create more exposure for high schoolers.
What is your opinion about how we can get our Cadet and Junior level wrestlers to the next level?
I would have to say they need to have fun. They shouldn’t go to many tournaments, shouldn’t cut weight all the time. They should set a schedule of certain tournaments and train for those tournaments or events. I would also say that there are many wrestlers that are too nice. They need to be more mean and aggressive, be more physical.
What is one thing people don’t know about you or what would you want people to know about you?
I love longboarding.