For every student athlete, there is one point of which an idea hits you. You begin to realize that time is of the essence; your career is coming to an end. For senior wrestler, Marcus Schontube, that time has come. He must live to either do or to either die heading into his last month of wrestling at the University of Pennsylvania. With the Eastern Intercollegiate Wrestling Association (EIWA) Championships taking place on March 4-5, Schontube will see if his five-year long career will be successful as he vies to be an All-American.
Heading to Penn, the Lowell, Ind. native always had high expectations of the things he would accomplish. Why shouldn’t he after going undefeated in his junior and senior years in high school, as well as being named Indiana’s Athlete of the Year. Schontube set a quick pace his freshman year for Penn as he broke into the starting lineup and compiled a 13-14 record. Most importantly, Schontube showed signs of success for the future.
“I really surprised myself my freshman year. I was competitive with ranked guys. I remember at Midlands, the two guys that beat me were ranked in the top 10, and I only lost to them by a point,” he said. At the conclusion of his freshman campaign, Schontube was named second-team All-Ivy League and placed sixth at the EIWA championships.
During his sophomore season, Schontube continued his trend of vast improvement by using his freshman experience to his advantage, recording a 21-13 overall record. Some the highlights included placing second at the 2002 Cowboy Open and Keystone Classic and improving his EIWA place to fifth.
“Experience definitely helps, it makes you more comfortable and helps your ability to wrestle your best,” he said.
Wrestling is a sport of which you can not afford to make mistakes due to pressure. There is no teammate that can make up the slack; it is just you and your opponent in the center of the mat. The more relaxed you are the clearer you can think and plan your attacks.
At the conclusion of the season, it seemed like Schontube’s time to break out had come. His junior season was coming up and he already had two years worth of experience; most college wrestlers only get their first chance to start their junior year. Also, most of Schontube’s top opponents graduated.
Then it came; the injury that sidelined Marcus for the 2002-2003 season. After placing third at the prestigious Michigan State Open, compiling an 8-2 record and breaking into the Top-20 nationally, he hurt his shoulder. He would spend the year rehabilitating and preparing for the next season as hopes and aspiration for his junior year slipped through his hands.
“You have no choice but to work through your injury to improve it,” he said. “Everyone gets hurt at some point. If you feel sorry for yourself, you will only fall behind more.”
The next year, Schontube came back with full force. He opened the season by placing second in the Keystone Classic and the Penn State Open. One of his most notable days came at the National Duals where Marcus posted a 4-1 record against the top competition in the country and helped the Quakers knock off No. 3 Iowa State and place eighth in the prestigious tournament. He also beat ranked competition including a win in Penn’s one point win over Wisconsin.
“I just go out there and wrestle. I don’t care who they are, how high they are ranked, I go out there and wrestle,” Schontube said of wrestling ranked opponents.
Schontube makes his philosophy evident as he tries to put the fear of god in the life of his opponents. Wrestling is a sport that requires you to be intense and physical; Schontube is a master of both one may never see a wrestler that hits his moves with such force like he does.
Schontube saw some light in his path at the end of last year. He placed second in the EIWA’s losing by one point in the finals. At the NCAA Championships, Schontube opened up with a pin over his opponent, but then had to wrestle his rival Chris Skretkowicz for the fourth time that season. Unfortunately, Skretkowicz had Schontube’s number again. Marcus would be knocked out of the tournament, but would finish the season with a 23-11 mark and received Penn’s Paul Norman Bond Award for being the most courageous wrestler.
Now in his final season here for the Red and Blue, Schontube has times to celebrate and time of disappointment. He won his first Keystone Classic title and placed sixth at the Las Vegas Invitational. He also placed third at the Brockport Oklahoma Gold tournament as he beat sixth- ranked J.D. Bergman in the consolation finals. But Schontube has lost some heart breaking matches too, especially to Jake Butler from Princeton.
Heading into what could be his final tournament of his career, Schontube must decide between being satisfied with his career, or stepping up his level of play to qualify again for the NCAA Championship and accomplish his goal of becoming an All-American.
-Written by Matthew Lambach, C’07