Gable Steveson after winning his third state title (Photo/Jeff Beshey, The Guillotine)
Gable Steveson of Apple Valley (Minn.) is the nation's No. 1 wrestler in the Class of 2018. He's a two-time Cadet world champion in freestyle and three-time state champion. Steveson finished his junior season with a 42-0 record and 41 pins.
In March, Steveson gave a verbal commitment to the University of Minnesota. He will join his older brother Bobby on the Gopher wrestling team in 2018.
InterMat recently caught up with Gable Steveson.
You recently won a UWW Junior Nationals title, beating past Cadet world silver medalist Jordan Wood 9-2 in the finals. How did you feel about the way you performed in Las Vegas?
Steveson: I felt real good. I felt better than I did last time I wrestled Wood. I was just more prepared, more focused and more ready to go.
You have two world titles at the Cadet level and are still eligible to compete as a Cadet. Why are you moving up to the Junior level this year?
Steveson: I can't make 220 [pounds] anymore for Cadets, so Junior was my next option. I'm also trying to bulk up for college. I want to get my weight up and get stronger.
Gable Steveson won the UWW Junior National title recently in Las Vegas (Photo/Tony Rotundo, WrestlersAreWarriors.com)
What do you expect to be different at the Junior level compared to the Cadet level?
Steveson: More physicality, stronger, older guys. More high pace. More physical matches with bigger and better guys.
What area of your wrestling do you feel like you need to improve upon the most over the next year?
Steveson: Getting faster. I'm already pretty quick as it is. But I want to keep building all aspects of my wrestling. Not just one main thing. Everything.
Gable Steveson's last loss came over three years ago in the state finals to Justin Cumberbatch (Photo/Jeff Beshey, The Guillotine)
When was the last time you lost a wrestling match?
Steveson: It was my eighth grade year. I wrestled a kid named Justin Cumberbatch in the state finals. In Minnesota, seventh and eighth-graders can wrestle in high school. I was ranked No. 1 in the state. He was No. 2. I remember going back stage and my coach was like, 'Dude, you just lost.' I was like, 'I know, man.' But it lit a fire in me. I just want to keep winning and progressing. I don't want to have that feeling again.
You announced your college decision during the NCAA Division I Wrestling Championships. Why was it important for you to make your college decision during your junior year?
Steveson: If you know where you want to be, there is no need to wait. The place I want to be is Minnesota. Coaches were texting me and it was real stressful. It was a lot. So I was ready to make my decision.
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What excites you about becoming a Gopher?
Steveson: The legacy of the heavyweights and trying to bring the program back to the top.
Are you expecting to wrestle immediately as a true freshman at Minnesota?
Steveson: Yeah, I talked to the coaches and they want me to step in right away as a true freshman.
It was recently announced that the 2020 NCAA Division I Wrestling Championships will be held at U.S. Bank Stadium in Minneapolis. What were your thoughts when that was announced?
Steveson: I was pumped. I'm excited to wrestle in front of my home city and try to win a national title and a team title.
2020 is also an Olympic year. So you don't anticipate taking an Olympic redshirt during the 2019-2020 season?
Steveson: I haven't thought about it. Kyle Snyder took the Olympic redshirt for half a year, came back and won the NCAA title and Olympic title. Being on the mat and wrestling in competition gets you more prepared than just practicing freestyle. You just have to be on the mat and competing all the time.
Gable Steveson with his brother Bobby and father Robert at UWW Junior Nationals (Photo/David Peterson, Minnesota/USA Wrestling)
Describe your relationship with your brother Bobby.
Steveson: We have a good relationship. We argue sometimes. Nothing serious now. We're older and more mature. It's a real good relationship. That's my brother. I'm excited to be at Minnesota with him.
Are you and Bobby still close enough in weight so you can wrestle?
Steveson: Yeah, I'm a good chunk bigger than him, but he still comes up and wrestles.
You moved to Minnesota from Indiana when you were in middle school. When did you start following the Gopher wrestling program?
Steveson: Right when we moved up to Minnesota they invited us in the room. I was just a little kid, getting whooped on by Scott Schiller, Brett Pfarr, Chris Pfarr, all those guys. Bobby committed there, and that's how it kind of got started.
Gable Steveson won by pin in 11 seconds in his state finals match (Photo/Jeff Beshey, The Guillotine)
You won your state championship this season by pin in 11 seconds and had 41 pins in 42 matches. Because you are so dominant, is it hard to get motivated against high school competition?
Steveson: Sometimes it's hard. But every time I step out on the mat I treat every wrestler the same. I have to do my business.
Olympic champions Henry Cejudo and Kyle Snyder both spent their senior year of high school at the Olympic Training Center in Colorado Springs. Is that something you are considering doing?
Steveson: My family and I have not decided yet. We're just taking it one step at a time and trying to get through my junior year right now. We have talked about where we want to go a couple times, but we haven't decided anything.
You attended your first NCAAs in St. Louis this past March. What did you think of the Gophers' performance?
Steveson: They performed real well. A lot of the wrestlers did better than their seeds. The team took home seventh, even though that's not what they want. They want to bring home a team trophy. Seventh for a team that wasn't highly ranked all year was pretty good, though.
Your former high school teammate Mark Hall won the NCAA title this year as a true freshman for Penn State. What was it like for you watching him win the NCAA title in St. Louis?
Steveson: It was nice watching him wrestle and win. He has helped me a lot both in wrestling and life.
Gable Steveson with the American flag after winning gold at the Cadet World Championships (Photo/Alireza Akbari)
What will your training situation be like this spring and summer?
Steveson: I practice with Tony Nelson a lot. That's my training partner, my brother. We're just going to hammer it out and try to make the Junior World Team, and then if I do we go to Finland, and see what I can do at the Junior World Championships.
What do you like about training with Tony Nelson?
Steveson: He's real strong. He's real fast. He's a big heavyweight, but he has the full package. He shows me a lot of new things.
This story also appears in the May 12 issue of The Guillotine. The Guillotine has been covering wrestling in Minnesota since 1971. Its mission is to report and promote wrestling at all levels -- from youth and high school wrestling to college and international level wrestling. Subscribe to The Guillotine.