Joe Tuscano

Column Joe Tuscano

Joe Tuscano has been with the Observer-Reporter since 1980. He has covered all sports for the newspaper, including the Steelers, Pirates, Pitt football, local college football and wrestling. He has worked for the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, the Jeannette News-Dispatch and North Hills Record. He graduated from Duquesne University in 1980.

Wiercioch, Marsteller put on a show to remember

Showing the best in wrestling

December 31, 2012

Many great moments have occurred in the Powerade Christmas Wrestling Tournament, making it one of the best early season events in the country. Big-name athletes from traditional powers have provided fans a chance to watch some of the best wrestling in the country.

The match between Chance Marsteller and Cody Wiercioch, the top two ranked wrestlers at 170 in the country by Intermat, Saturday night added to the tournament’s lore and showed wrestling fans just how entertaining and thrilling the sport can be when it’s competed at the highest level by the most talented athletes.

Most matches that reach the ultimate tiebreaker stage with only a combined five escapes would be considered run-of-the-mill, maybe even boring.

That wasn’t the case here.

Wiercioch, a senior at Canon-McMillan and a two-time state champion, and Marsteller, a junior at Kennard-Dale who also is a two-time state champion and undefeated in his varsity career, put on a show like no other.

They also made another memorable moment in the Powerade tournament.

Through the first three rounds, they competed on adjoining mats, steadily making their way to the finals of the 170-pound weight class. Marsteller looked small for a 170-pounder, and the guess here is that he will drop at season’s end.

The tournament organizers are no dummies. They arranged the finals so that Wiercioch-Marsteller was at the end. Few, if any, left early, and were rewarded with the bout of the year.

For more than eight minutes, Wiercioch and Marsteller put on a show that was worth every cent of the ticket purchase for fans. Wiercioch getting out of three single-leg attempts by Marsteller was incredible to watch. Marsteller dropping to a split that would make even the best cheerleader envious to hold off a Wiercioch single-leg attempt in the first overtime was amazing. Holding it for seven seconds before a stalemate was called was beyond belief.

If there was a down side to this match, it was the way it was decided: the flip of the disk. Marsteller won the flip after the first period, giving him the option of choosing the start position for the second period. He quickly escaped. Neither wrestler could hold the other in the down position. All but 12 seconds of the seven-period bout was competed in the neutral position.

Because Marsteller won the flip and scored first, he had choice of position for the final overtime period. He escaped within seconds to win the bout 3-2. Had Wiercioch won the flip, and the match played out the way it did, Wiercioch would have won because Marsteller was unable to hold him down.

When the match ended, the standing-room-only crowd gave the wrestlers a standing ovation. They knew they saw something special, a rare bout between two champions who dazzled them with their ability.

It’s too bad that type of bout doesn’t happen more often.

Assistant sports editor Joe Tuscano can be reached at



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