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Second Chance

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One of the top wrestling prospects in Pennsylvania high school history is coming home.

Chance Marsteller, a graduate of Kennard-Dale High School in rural York County, decided this spring to transfer from the Oklahoma State wrestling program to Lock Haven University in an attempt to get his promising wrestling career back on track.

Marsteller is one of five Pennsylvania wrestlers to have an undefeated high school record, collecting four state championships in the process.

He also trained under Pennsylvania wrestling legend Cary Kolat, a two-time NCAA champion at Lock Haven and a member of the 2000 United States Olympic wrestling program.

Marsteller originally committed to attend Penn State and work under the legendary Cael Sanderson, but he ultimately changed his mind and decided to wrestle at national power Oklahoma State, under coach John Smith—also one of the most renowned college wrestlers and coaches in the country—instead.

After redshirting as a true freshman, Marsteller compiled a 6-5 record this past season for Oklahoma State, with one pin and two technical falls. He was wrestling as the Cowboys' regular at 157-pounds, a significant weight-cut since winning his fourth PIAA wrestling title at 170 pounds in 2014.

Marsteller was suspended from the Cowboys wrestling program in January for an unspecified violation of team rules. Joe Smith, the son of the head coach, replaced him for the rest of the 2016 season.

Former Pitt wrestler and current youth coach Jason Mitchell said that there were many things that may have contributed to Marsteller’sChance Marsteller struggles in Stillwater over the course of his first two seasons as a Cowboy.

“Who really knows other than him, his coaches and those closest to him?” Mitchell said. “It was never made public why he was suspended the second semester, and quite frankly, it really doesn't matter.  He didn't get kicked off the team or kicked out of school. This was between him and Coach Smith.”

Jason Bryant has covered college wrestling for more than two decades. He said that the competition was very strong at Oklahoma State, which may have contributed to his struggles.

“You look at the number of top 10 or top 20 recruits that they bring in every year. Not all of those guys are in the starting lineup,” Bryant said. “Division I wrestling is a tough thing. Just because you’re all-world in high school… There are countless examples of kids who are ranked very highly in the country who go to college and just don’t pan out.”

Bryant also says that the culture of Oklahoma State wrestling was something that Marsteller may not have been expecting.

Mitchell agreed that the competition at Oklahoma State may have been tough for him to deal with.

“That wrestling room is full of multi-time state champs, national, high school, freestyle and Greco champs, and is coached by arguably the greatest American wrestler ever,” Mitchell said. “Some weights have two or three guys like that. It's incredibly difficult. Practices force guys to wrestle like it’s the quarters or semis at Nationals. It's insane, and I don't think most people really realize this.”

Both Bryant and Mitchell also said the weight pull may have been too much for the recently-turned 21-year-old Marsteller. He was wrestling at a weight that was just five pounds heavier than he wrestled as a 15-year old freshman in high school.

His transfer to Lock Haven could be a huge benefit to his career, possibly getting his once-promising career back on the right path.

“I was a bit concerneLock Haven Chance Marstellerd this winter and spring with whether he had the desire and drive to do it because it seemed like he was just simply done – he had put everything into the sport since he was in middle school,” Mitchell said. “That said, the way he wrestled at the UWW University Freestyle Nationals recently, he seems to have that desire back.”

Mitchell said that is a scary thing for his opponents in the matches to come, while Bryant believes that Marsteller will be “as good as he wants to be.”

“In college wrestling, you can have all the talent in the world, but if you’re not putting in the effort and the work, it’s not just going to be given to you,” Bryant said.

Marsteller’s first match with the Bald Eagles will take place on November 5 in Clarion, Pa. at the Clarion Open.

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