Gable Steveson was an immediate star from the time he first stepped on the mat to represent the Maroon and Gold. The true freshman heavyweight went undefeated in his inaugural collegiate dual season and took just two losses in the postseason, one coming in the Big Ten finals to Penn State’s Anthony Cassar and the other also coming against Cassar in the NCAA semifinals. He racked up Big Ten Freshman of the Year honors, but that was just the beginning.
Since his last loss to Cassar in 2019, Steveson has won 34 straight matches, 26 of which he won in bonus-point fashion. He has the highest winning percentage in Minnesota school history, he’s the sixth Gopher heavyweight to win a national title and the fourth to accomplish such a feat since 2000. His championship performance in the 2021 season earned him the co-Hodge Trophy along with Spencer Lee.
Let’s take a look back at some of Steveson’s most memorable moments as a college wrestler:
First NCAA title: Steveson beats Mason Parris, 8-4
March 21, 2021 — Enterprise Center, St. Louis, MO
This was a match Gable Steveson had been waiting for since losing to Anthony Cassar in the 2019 NCAA semifinals. It wasn’t that Steveson really wanted to wrestle Parris again — he’d certainly had plenty of matches against the Michigan heavyweight — but he wanted to wrestle in the NCAA finals, an opportunity that had eluded him. After winning the Big Ten championship in 2020, Steveson was the favorite to capture his first national title in his home state, but COVID ruined his plans. Through preparation and patience, Steveson was finally back, and this time, he wasn’t leaving without gold.
Match summary & recap:
Steveson started this championship match against Parris with a high-flying pace, immediately showing off his force by pushing Parris around the mat and making his opponent work to stay upright. A quick shot effort in the first 30 seconds was simply Steveson’s way of warming up, and, 15 seconds later, he had Parris on the ground. A two-point takedown, and he was off and running. He tossed Parris effortless off the mat before the restart and tossed the camera a look of calm fearlessness. Parris escaped before the end of the first minute, earning his first point of the match, but escapes would be all Parris would manage in this seven-minute battle. Parris kept his head in the game, though, and he was working to create as many opportunities as possible, shooting at times, only to be denied by Steveson. After over a minute of good, solid hand-fighting action, Steveson made the final move on the edge of the match, circling around behind Parris and looking for two points, but his feet went out of bound on the effort.
STEVESON SUCCESS: Re-live Gable Steveson’s championship run at the 2021 NCAA tournament
Steveson chose down to start the second period, but picked up his escape in the first 15 seconds to pull ahead 3-1. With both men back on their feet, the pace slowed a tad. Neither wrestler managed a takedown in the period, and Steveson’s escape would be the only change to the score with everything on the line heading into the final two minutes. Parris was still in the fight, and he chose down to start the third, but Steveson wasn’t even close to done with his scoring plans.
Though Parris would go on to earn his escape early in the third period, Steveson’s quick mat return to start the period showed that he wasn’t hesitating one bit. He responded to Parris’ escape with a quick takedown on the edge of the mat, but gave Parris another escape to make the score 5-3. Parris, in typical Michigan Man fashion, looked for his own takedown and went in for a double-leg shot, but Steveson again warded off the effort as they went off the mat, leading to a stall call against Parris. The stall call gave Steveson another point, but Parris never counted himself out. He kept shooting, Steveson kept blocking and the match moved forward. A final takedown from Steveson and a final escape from Parris would finish up the epic battle of Big Men, and, for the first time in his career, Steveson could call himself a national champion.
- 47 seconds: Takedown Steveson – Steveson leads 2-0
- 55 seconds: Escape Parris- Steveson leads 2-1
- 3:15: Steveson escapes – Steveson extends his lead 3-1
- 5:06- Parris escapes – Steveson holds his lead 3-2
- 5:15- Takedown Steveson – Steveson leads 5-2
- 5:45- Stall call against Parris – Steveson leads 6-2
- 6:40: Takedown Steveson – Steveson leads 8-3
- 6:50: Escape Parris – Steveson wins 8-4
First Big Ten Title: Steveson beats Mason Parris, 8-6
March 8, 2020 — Rutgers Athletic Center, Piscataway, New Jersey
Heading into this 2020 match, both Steveson and Parris boasted undefeated records, with Steveson holding a 14-0 resume and Parris representing a 28-0 record. The stage was set for two of the best in the conference, and two of the best in the country, to go head to head. The last time Steveson was on this stage, he took a surprising loss to Anthony Cassar, but this time the match would go differently for the Gopher.
Match summary & recap:
Parris came out in the first period with aggression, hand-fighting tough and forcing the pace, but Steveson showed his strength quickly. Minnesota’s sophomore fended off a quick shot from the Wolverine and scored the first points of the match with a two-point takedown within the first 70 seconds of the match. He went to work on top with a powerful mat return and picked up a little riding time before giving up the escape and setting himself up again in neutral. Steveson wasn’t going to let Parris stay on his feet for too long though, and he scored his second takedown with just 25 seconds left in the first period to extend his lead 4-2 after Parris escaped again at the end of the period. Parris fought, working for his own shots and trying for a big move, but time ran out for him in the first.
GOPHER WINS GOLD: Learn more about how Gable Steveson won his second Big Ten title in 2021
Parris chose down to start the second period and picked up a quick escape. With both men back on their feet, the hand-fighting continued with Parris looking for some action but Steveson’s defense was too much. The Gopher also decided, less than 30 seconds left in the second period, that he wanted to remind Parris of his trademark strength and sent him flying off the mat. While no points were awarded, the visual of the two big men moving with such speed and power showed the level of skill involved in this matchup.
Steveson started the third period and quickly picks up an escape to extend his lead before moving into a powerful shot that took Parris off his feet and sent him right into the scorer’s table. Again, the move didn’t result in any points, but he didn’t need the points. Steveson was in control and picked up an easy two points just about a minute later on a smooth mat takedown. An escape from Parris made the score 8-4, and while the Steveson-takedown-Parris-escape pattern would clearly define the match, Parris persisted.
With less than ten seconds left, Parris went in on Steveson’s leg and worked for a takedown of his own. Steveson escaped, but that fight from Parris can’t be ignored.
- 1:09: Steveson earns a takedown – Steveson leads 2-0
- 1:32 Parris escapes – Steveson leads 2-1
- 2:35: Steveson picks up another takedown – Steveson leads 4-1
- 2:40: Parris escape again – Steveson leads 4-2
- 3:04 – Parris earns an early escape – Steveson leads 4-3
- 5:05 – Steveson escapes – He leads 5-3
- 6:05 – Steveson scores a smooth takedown – He leads 7-3
- 6:12 – Parris escapes for a fourth time – Steveson leads 8-4
- 6:50 – Parris earns his first takedown of the match – Steveson leads 7-6
- 6:54- Steveson escapes – Steveson wins 8-6
Fastest Pin: Steveson pins Connor Bower in 13 seconds
What can you do in 1️⃣3️⃣ seconds?
— Minnesota on BTN (@MinnesotaOnBTN) January 16, 2021
You don’t need a scoring summary or breakdown for this one. On January 16, 2021, just a few weeks into the shortened COVID season, Steveson put on a show against the Maryland Terrapins. Connor Bower barely had time to prepare himself for a match against the No. 1 wrestler in the country before Steveson had him tied up and on his back. That the kind of speed and surprise that Steveson brings every time he steps on the mat.