The Powerade Christmas Wrestling Tournament has a reputation as one of the best in the nation.
On Wednesday, it got a little more intriguing.
Intermat’s top two wrestlers in the country at 170 pounds – Chance Marsteller of Kennard-Dale and Cody Wiercioch of Canon-McMillan – are in the same weight class for this tournament. Save for an upset or injury, the two are sure to be in the finals in a match that will certainly draw nationwide attention from the wrestling community.
“It’ll be the talk of the tournament,” said C-M head coach Chris Mary. “It’s great for high school wrestling to have that happen.”
Marsteller is seeded first at 170, and Wiercioch is second.
Action gets underway at Canon-McMillan at 8:30 a.m. Friday, and quarterfinals begin at 7:30 p.m. Semifinals are at 11:30 a.m. Saturday, followed by another consolation round, then the consolation finals at 5 p.m.
The Parade of Champions is expected to begin at 7 p.m., and the finals are at 7:30 p.m.
Marsteller has a 92-0 varsity record and has been compared to the legendary Cary Kolat in his appearance and technique on the mat. It’s a comparison Marsteller plays down.
“I kind of get upset when people compare me to Cary, because I’m still young, and Cary has had a great career,” Marsteller told Andrew Hipps of Intermat in June. “He was a great wrestler, and I’m far from being what he ever was.”
Wiercioch is considered a tough matchup for Marsteller because the C-M senior is a strong technical wrestler and does not always rely on the physical style you find at that weight.
“Cody is very excited,” said Mary. “He’s had great workouts. We knew this was coming, and he’s looking forward to it. It’s going to be great for the fans. They love this type of matchup.”
In other news for the tournament, Clovis, Calif., which has competed in two previous Powerade tournaments and is ranked No. 12 in the country by Intermat, was forced to pull out of the event because of a flight cancellation. Hermiston, Ore., pulled out a few weeks ago when airline fares soared in the area, making it too expensive to travel to the competition. That puts the field at 44 teams.
“(Clovis’) flight was cancelled, and the next one out was not until Friday,” said tournament director Frank Vulcano. “I’m not sure if the storm will affect other teams. Most will be traveling (today), and I haven’t heard anything (as of Wednesday afternoon).”
Blair Academy, which won last year’s team title by sending seven wrestlers to the finals and taking home four gold medals, is the heavy favorite to win again. Blair Academy won the team title by nearly 100 points over Canon-McMillan and comes into this tournament ranked No. 1 in the country. Canon-McMillan is sixth.
Nine wrestlers are expected back to defend their titles: Vincenzo Joseph (106) of Pittsburgh Central Catholic; Michael Kemerer (113) of Franklin Regional; Russell Parsons (152) of Blair Academy; Marsteller (160); Wiercioch (170); Dakota Deslauriers (182) of Burrel; Jacob Hart (195) of Hampton; Thomas Haines (220) of Solanco; and Brooks Black (Hvy) of Blair Academy.
One other champion – Solomon Chishko of Canon-McMillan – won’t compete. Chishko is recovering from a broken elbow sustained in November’s Super 32 tournament.