Gable Steveson isn't your average freshman wrestler — unless winning four high school state titles and three world titles is considered average.
The Apple Valley, Minnesota native has transitioned seamlessly into collegiate wrestling, with an overall record of 8-0 to start the season. He is 2-0 against ranked opponents, including a win against No. 3 overall Derek White. He also won the Daktronics Open earlier this season.
Head coach Brandon Eggum isn't surprised by Steveson's hot start and said his competitive nature is what stands out among the rest.
“He competes at an extremely high level. He understands wrestling; his wrestling IQ, his mat sense out there when he is competing is off the charts," Eggum said. "He’s wrestling against some of the biggest guys in the country, in any sport, these guys are monsters. He’s just an 18-year-old young man, and he’s really dominating at the Division-I level."
Steveson comes from a family of fellow wrestlers. His father, Robert, wrestled and his brother Bobby wrestles at the 197-pound weight class for the Gophers and was part of the reason Gable Steveson decided to stay home and wrestle at Minnesota.
"I thought it was the right fit for me because being at home, my family is here and my brother is here also," Gable Steveson said. "You can go to a lot of places in the country that have real good teams and just be another person on the team, but here you stand out to everyone."
Gable Steveson is not afraid of lofty expectations, something he has dealt with since he was born. His mother named him Gable, after Dan Gable, a two-time NCAA national wrestling champion and Olympic gold medalist.
Eggum has already declared Steveson the starter in the heavyweight division and has high praise of Gable Steveson's advanced ability.
"The way he is competing out there, how relaxed and confident he is, I don’t think I’ve seen anybody, that I’ve ever coached, that has the swag that he does when he's out there," Eggum said. "He’s one of a kind.”
The freshman began the year ranked fifth in his weight class, but has moved up to second following the undefeated start.
However, Gable Steveson will see no shortage of tough competition in the Big Ten, the conference Eggum called, "the toughest conference in the country." Along with Steveson, three other Big Ten wrestlers are ranked in the top five of the heavyweight division, including No. 1 Sam Stoll of Iowa.
“I set [my expectations] high, so I want to be an undefeated national champion," Gable Steveson said.
Minnesota defeated South Dakota State in its last match Nov. 25, defeating the Jackrabbits 35-6. The win brought the team record to 2-1 on the year.
The Gophers will travel to Las Vegas for the two-day Cliff Keen Invitational Nov. 30-Dec. 1. The team will take on top teams in the Big Ten including Ohio State and Michigan. The team will not be at full strength with two wrestlers out due to injury.
Mitch McKee is out. He is receiving a small knee scope procedure that will sideline him until after Christmas. Steve Bleise, who wrestled against Oklahoma State with a broken hand, had surgery on Nov. 19 and a time table for his return has not been set.