2021 continues to be the year of Gable Steveson. Big Ten title, NCAA title, and now US Olympian. Steveson swept the best two-of-three finals from rival Nick Gwiazdowski and will represent the United States at the 2021 Olympics in Tokyo this summer.
Steveson began his run through the competition in the 125 kilogram classification on Friday in the quarterfinals where he cruised to an easy 11-0 technical fall win over No. 7 seed Tanner Hall in less than two minutes. He would face a familiar foe in the semifinals in Simley grad and Penn State freshman Daniel Kerkvliet. Steveson defeated him in the NCAA Quarterfinal, and had no trouble with him once more earning an identical 11-0 technical fall win. He would face the #1 seed Gwiazdowski in the finals on Saturday.
Gwiazdowski is two-time World Championship bronze medalist and two-time NCAA Champion at N.C. State in 2014 and 2015. In three previous meetings he had a 2-1 record against Steveson, but Gable had won the most recent meeting between the two wrestlers Steveson won the last matchup by a 4-1 decision at the 2020 RTC Cup this past December.
Gable showed his dominance in the weight class in the first match between the two wrestlers in Saturday night. He jumped with a takedown and leg lace to take a 4-0 lead. Leading 6-0 after the first period, he recorded back-to-back takedowns to secure his third straight technical fall by a 10-0 margin. He needed to win just one of the next two to make the US Olympic team. He wouldn’t make it take any extra effort.
Steveson clinched the title with a 10-4 decision in the second match. He scored a pair of first-period takedowns and extended his lead to 8-1 with two more in the second. As the clock ran down, the two wrestlers shook hands and then Gable took off on his now standard celebratory backflip.
Steveson becomes the 11th Gopher to qualify for the Olympics and the first since Jake Deitchler in 2008. He will be a potential contender in Tokyo but will need to get past two-time World Champion Geno Petriashvili of Georgia who will be the favorite in the event.
The wrestling competition will begin on August 1st. Congrats to Gable and we will have much more as the Olympics near.