For four years, Chance Marsteller's opponents showed guts by just going out to the wrestle the Kennard-Dale phenom. They knew they were going to either get pinned or tech-falled, and the very, very good ones got majored.
In this postseason, though, it was Martsteller who was showing his guts.
Marsteller revealed after he beat Pittsburgh Central Catholic's Kyle Coniker, 14-2, in the 170-pound finals of the Class AAA Tournament to become only the 11th wrestler in the history of the state to win four titles that he had a stress fracture in his lower back.
Now, if that's not guts, I don't know what is.
"It's pretty bad," Marsteller said. "I was really trying not to show any emotion. I'm just like any other wrestler, any other athlete. You don't ever show any signs of weakness. That's the last thing you do."
He'll bypass Sunday's Dapper Dan Wrestling Classic and spend the next month in a brace. Read between the lines and you figure Marsteller probably shouldn't have wrestled in Hershey.
"Um, it was iffy," he said. "I couldn't walk for about a day-and-a-half. Having Doc [Walter] Peppelman, Doc [Dan] Neff and my physical therapist, they're absolutely great at what they do, and I'm really thankful for them helping me to be lucky enough to come out here and wrestle today."
The injury didn't seem to change much as he racked up a pin, two technical falls and the major decision. But, his style did seem to change in that he was doing most of his scoring from the top position and bypassing any takedown maneuvers in which he lifted his opponent.
There were rumors that he had injured his back early in the season, and he did admit he had been having nerve problems in his lower back. But, he fractured his back, he says, at the District 3 sectional tournament.
At the District 3 tourney, he beat Big Spring's Cody Seibert, 16-5, in the finals to claim his fourth title, but not before hearing boos from some in the crowd after he took an injury timeout and was called for stalling three times in the last 30 seconds while on the bottom.
"I was pretty ticked off at myself at districts that I had to take my first-ever injury time, first-ever stall point given up," Marsteller said. "So coming into this, I knew I had to toughen it up and not show any emotion, but my back is pretty serious."
Marsteller would have been a major draw for the Dapper Dan, which pits a Pennsylvania all-star team against a USA team, especially with Penn State recruit Bo Nickal at 170 for the USA. Marsteller initially committed to PSU, but then he signed with Oklahoma State.
"A lot of people will be pretty upset with me," he said of not being in the Dapper Dan, "but I'd rather have my back than have my career. I really feel like I'm letting a lot of my Pa. teammates down, and it's something I've looked forward to my whole life, so I'm pretty upset about it."
Marsteller ended his high school career with a 166-0 record, becoming only the sixth in the state to go unbeaten. After his hand was raised by the ref and Clearfield four-timer Jerry Maurey (1947-1950), Marsteller climbed into the stands and tearfully hugged his family.
"Every other state title is just another match, just another day," he said, "but I think this one was a little more memorable."
Todd Irwin can be reached at 946-7464 or at firstname.lastname@example.org.