Kennard-Dale graduate takes Olympic Greco-Roman wrestling spot in United States
John Stefanowicz has booked a trip to Tokyo.
Kennard-Dale High School graduate swept the favorite in his 87-kilogram (192-pound) Greco-Roman weight class in a best-of-three championship series at the US Olympic Team Trials in Forth Worth , Texas, Saturday. This triumph over Joe Rau saw Stefanowicz claim a spot on the United States squad for this summer’s Olympics in Japan.
Rau was able to sit down after winning the 2016 Olympic team trials at 97 kilograms, but did not qualify for the Olympics. Rau was also the returning member of the world team in the Greco-Roman 87 kilogram weight class.
Stefanowicz won the first game against Rau, 6-5, and kept a 2-1 lead to claim the victory in the second fight.
After Stefanowicz was forced to come back from behind to win Game 1, he chased Rau at the start of Game 2. Stefanowicz scored two points from a takedown and used his defense to secure the win.
Rau was awarded a point and a position over Stefanowicz due to a passive decision by the official with less than two minutes to go, but the KD graduate was able to escape easily.
“When you hear these stories from people who came before you, when they say anything is possible and how things can happen, we’re usually the ones setting there saying, ‘Yes, that will never happen, or the less it will not happen to me, “Stefanowicz said last week.” Now I am the one saying how it is possible and how it can happen. “
Stefanowicz recently moved to the 87 kilogram category to compete for an Olympic spot. He was the highest ranked 82 kilogram American Greco-Roman wrestler in 2019 and won a gold medal at the 2020 Pan American Games, but changed weight as 82 kilograms was not an option to qualify for Tokyo.
Former KD phenomenon Chance Marsteller’s older brother Stefanowicz failed to qualify for a PIAA state high school tournament and received no interest from varsity wrestling programs.
Different paths lead York County brothers to fulfill their Olympic wrestling dreams
After graduation he joined the Marines, where he grew seven inches and gained 75 pounds. Less than five years after returning to the sport, Stefanowicz secured a place on the Greco-Roman American squad list in 2017 and claimed a victory at the Final X event in 2019.
In Friday’s Challenger Bracket Olympic Team Trials final, Stefanowicz beat No.3 seed Pat Martinez 1-1 to reach the best-of-three final against Rau.
Martinez got a point in the first half after Stefanowicz was cautioned for being passive and led 1-0 after the first period. Stefanowicz got a point in the second half to tie the game and won because he scored the last point.
The win was Stefanowicz’s third straight win of the day in which he overcame a deficit in the first period.
To take on Martinez, the KD graduate executed a clutch move to secure the 6-3 victory over No.2 seed Alan Vera to reach the Challenger Bracket final.
Stefanowicz trailed Vera 3-2 with 11 seconds left before he could recover a four-point move on Vera. After the officials came to an agreement and agreed that Stefanowicz won four points, Vera stopped wrestling and shook hands with Stefanowicz as the final seconds passed.
In his first game of the day, Stefanowicz overcame an early three-point deficit to win, 9-3, over Barrett Stanghill.
No. 4 seed Stefanowicz rebounded from a slow start to dominate the No. 5 seed in the second period with nine points.
Marsteller ousted: With Stefanowicz in the middle of his first game, his younger brother Chance Marsteller beat former Penn State star Vincenzo Joseph in the 74-kilogram (163-pound) Challenger Bracket.
Marsteller defeated Joseph, 3-3. Joseph was ruled passive on two occasions during the match, giving Marsteller the victory after scoring the last point.
Joseph held a 1-0 lead after the first period, but Marsteller scored an out and survived for the win. It was a last-ditch qualifying rematch last weekend. Marsteller won this fight, 5-0, against two-time NCAA PSU champion.
Marsteller, however, was knocked out in the next round by former Wisconsin star Evan Wick, 4-0 by fall in the first period. Marsteller then lost to Logan Massa in the first round of the consolation table, 9-4.
Wick, an NCAA All-American double at Wisconsin, was beaten by Marsteller, 10-0, at an event in Pittsburgh in January. In 2019, the men split two games at the NCAA Championships, with Marsteller winning the second to finish third in the tournament.
Contact Rob Rose at [email protected]