2x NCAA Champion and Olympic gold medalist Gable Steveson (Photo courtesy of Tony Rotundo; WrestlersAreWarriors.com)
Gable Steveson recently won his second NCAA title and left his shoes in the center of the mat to signify retirement from competitive wrestling. He is expected to join his brother, Bobby, in the World Wrestling Entertainment before the end of the year. Not only was his final season a success for him, as it ended with a title, it was also one of the most statistically dominant seasons in recent memory. Let's take a look back at the offensive and defensive prowess that Steveson displayed during the 2022 season.
On his run through the NCAA tournament, Steveson averaged 2.18 points per minute, allowed only 0.85 points per minute and finished with a +1.33 point differential. That differential was the highest in the entire tournament and significantly higher than the next highest wrestler, Aaron Brooks (Penn State) with +1.05.
While that number was impressive, the Minnesota wrestler was actually more dominant during the regular season and the Big Ten tournament. Prior to the NCAA tournament, he had a +2.07 differential based on scoring 3.04 points per minute and allowing only 0.93. Steveson's final differential for the entire season was +1.83.
In total, he scored 275 match points over the course of the year. As always, he made it a point to jump on his opponents early, as 116 of those points were scored in the first periods of his matches.
Steveson scored at least two takedowns in every one of his matches on the season. He scored only two takedowns against Luke Luffman (Illinois) back in February, mostly due to the fact that he won by fall less than two minutes into the match. The only other wrestler to give up only two takedowns was Cohlton Schultz (Arizona State). In the finals, Steveson scored a pair of first-period takedowns before holding on for the 6-2 victory.
His high for takedowns came in the first round of the NCAA tournament. He scored 12 takedowns against Tyrell Gordon (Northern Iowa) and finished with a 25-10 technical fall in the third period. Gordon scored nothing but escapes in the match, but the combined 35 points made for the highest scoring match of the entire tournament.
Steveson somewhat famously gave up a takedown against Lucas Davison (Northwestern) in the quarterfinals of the tournament. It was the only takedown he gave up all season. While Steveson's takedown game was on full display this year, his defense might be more impressive. Not only did he give up only a single takedown this college season, but he also allowed only one at the U.S. Olympic Trials and one in the Olympics.
At the Trials, two-time World bronze medalist Nick Gwiazdowski managed only one takedown in the second and final match of the best-of-three final. Steveson then made it to the finals of the Olympic tournament without allowing a takedown. However, in the finals, Geno Petriashvili scored one takedown and notched eight points against Steveson.
In the end, Steveson finished his final college season with 113 landed takedowns and allowed only one.
Near Fall Points
Despite his scoring dominance, Steveson only scored near-fall points in five of his matches on the year.
On 12 occasions, he was able to add near-fall points to his point total. Interestingly enough, he only was able to gain the full four count twice. His most near-fall points came against Michael Woulfe (Purdue). In the bout, which was part of the dual between Minnesota and Purdue, he scored 10 points via near fall.
As previously mentioned, Steveson allowed only one takedown during the season. It was also the only two-point score he allowed. Of the 93 points his opponents scored during the year, 90 came via escape. Besides the Davison takedown, the only other non-escape point scored against Steveson was an unnecessary roughness penalty given in his match against Mason Parris (Michigan) back in January.
Steveson appeared to be well on his way toward finishing the season with a 100% bonus rate. Prior to the NCAA tournament, he had won all 12 of his matches with bonus points. However, the record got away from him during the final tournament.
Davison, Schultz and Greg Kerkvliet (Penn State) all escaped the tournament without allowing Steveson to score bonus points. While the Minnesota wrestler outscored the three opponents by a combined score of 24 to 10, he could not build a large enough margin in any match for bonus.
Despite this, Steveson still finished with a 77.78% bonus rate per WrestleStat. This was still one of the highest rates of the year and higher than all his fellow Hodge Trophy finalists.
With the Hodge criteria being recently updated, it is virtually a lock that he will win the voting and take home his second-straight Hodge Trophy.