Gateway: Sports

Peninsula’s Stolz hungry for 3A state title

Peninsula senior Chance Stolz, left, is one of the state’s top-ranked wrestlers in the 195-pound class.
Peninsula senior Chance Stolz, left, is one of the state’s top-ranked wrestlers in the 195-pound class. Staff writer

When Peninsula High senior Chance Stolz went up against Union’s Zach Berfanger earlier in the season, he was expecting a competitive match.

After all, Berfanger was ranked in the top five for Class 4A’s 195-pound weight class.

But the match turned out to be a breeze for Stolz, who pinned Berfanger in the second round.

“He didn’t do anything,” Stolz said. “I was like, ‘That wasn’t hard.’”

Few opponents during the course of the season expect to put up much of a fight against Stolz, who has a 12-0 record so far with 11 pins. Stolz, one of the top-ranked 195 pounders in Class 3A, expects to win a state title this year. Last year, he took third.

“I should’ve been a two-timer,” Stolz said. “If I’m not a one-timer, I’m gonna freak out.”

Early in his high school career, Stolz was able to rely on his strength to overpower opponents. But after spending last year sparring with teammate Luke Holsinger, his technique has started to catch up to his strength.

“I think through his first two years, that was it,” Peninsula wrestling coach Mark Nickels said. “It was just kind of a given: He’s going to go out there, through a butcher on a kid and pin him and there wasn’t going to be any competition. That held pretty true in his first two years. He had really rough, really herky-jerky motions. But now, the technique piece is picking up. He’s putting a lot of effort into doing the small things right. I think in any sport, that’s what really separates the goods from greats.”

Another thing that separates Stolz from his competitors in his relentless competitive drive.

“That’s a hard thing to coach,” Nickels said. You can throw the hardest thing I could at him, and that’s not going to drive him away. That’s not always the case with kids. Sometimes when it gets a little tough, they don’t always see that as a growth opportunity. But Chance does. I think ultimately, he appreciates being put in those tough situations. He knows there’s going to be a lot of payoff and there’s always an opportunity to win the match.”

Even going against opponents who may be more technically skilled than him, Stolz never makes things easy.

“What Chance has that helps bridge the gap in a lot of cases, he just refuses to lose a position,” Nickels said. “He works really hard. There’s just a ton of fight in him.”

It appears to all be coming together for Stolz this year. His eye is on the prize, and Nickels said there’s “no reason” why he can’t win a state title.

“I want that more than anything,” Stolz said. “It’s you earning it. It’s everything you’ve done the past four years. In the end, it’s how far I’ve pushed myself to become the best. To get my name on the list of champions, just seeing my name up there would be incredible.”