FORT WORTH, TEXAS – NCAA Champion and Hodge Trophy winner Gable Steveson is one step away from qualifying for the 2021 Tokyo Olympics after reaching the finals of the U.S. Olympic Team Trials. Steveson will face top seed Nick Gwiazdowski in a best-of-three championship series on Saturday night.
Steveson rolled into the finals with back-to-back technical falls. In the quarterfinals, he needed just 1:59 to dispatch No. 7 seed Tanner Hall, 11-0. Steveson recorded an identical 11-0 technical fall against Daniel Kerkvliet of Penn State in a rematch of their NCAA quarterfinal meeting in March.
This will be the fourth meeting between Steveson and Gwiazdowski, a two-time World Championship bronze medalist and two-time NCAA Champion at N.C. State (2014-15). Gwiazdowski won the first two meetings based on criteria at the Final X Rutgers in June 2019, but Steveson won the last matchup by a 4-1 decision at the 2020 RTC Cup this past December.
With two wins tomorrow, Steveson would become the 11th Gopher wrestler to qualify for the Olympics and the first since Jake Deitchler in 2008.
Five former Gophers remain in contention for third place in the consolation bracket. The lone competitor in Greco-Roman, Pat Smith reached the 77kg semifinals, but was defeated by No. 10 seed Jesse Porter, 5-3. Porter upset second seed RaVaughn Perkins and third seed Smith to reach tomorrow’s championship final.
Consolation and third-place matches will be held on Saturday at Noon. In addition to Smith, Sean Russell (57kg), Mitch McKee (65kg), Brett Pfarr (86kg) and Tony Nelson (125kg) will take to the mat in the men’s freestyle division. All matches will be streamed on Peacock TV.
Tomorrow night’s championship matches will begin at 6:30 p.m. Central and air live on NBC Sports Network.
Golden Gopher Results (Numbers listed are seeds)
57kg – No. 9 Zach Sanders (0-2)
Pigtails: No. 8 Zane Richards (Illinois RTC) tech. fall Sanders, 10-0
Consolation: No. 7 Sean Russell (Gopher Wrestling Club RTC) dec. Sanders, 6-4
57kg – No. 7 Sean Russell
Quarterfinal: No. 2 Daton Fix (Cowboy RTC/TMWC) tech. fall Russell, 11-0
Consolation: Russell dec. No. 9 Zach Sanders (Gopher Wrestling Club RTC), 6-4
Consolation: Russell vs. No. 6 Nathan Tomasello (TMWC)
65kg – No. 11 Mitch McKee
Pigtails: No. 6 Nick Lee (Nittany Lion WC/TMWC) tech. fall McKee, 14-2
Consolation: McKee over No. 4 James Green (TMWC/ SERTC), Forfeit
Consolation: McKee vs. No. 10 Evan Henderson (Spartan Combat RTC/TMWC)
77kg Greco-Roman – No. 3 Pat Smith
Quarterfinals: Smith dec. No. 6 Mason Manville (U.S. Army WCAP), 2-1
Semifinals: No. 10 Jesse Porter (NYAC) dec. Smith, 5-3
Consolation: Smith vs. Morrow/Provisor
86kg: No. 9 Brett Pfarr (1-2)
Pigtails: Pfarr dec. No. 8 Samuel Brooks (Hawkeye WC/NYAC), 9-3
Quarterfinals: No. 1 David Taylor (Nittany Lion WC/TMWC) tech. fall Pfarr, 11-0
Consolation: No. 7 Nate Jackson (New Jersey RTC/NYAC) dec. Pfarr, 9-2
125kg: No. 2 Gable Steveson
Quarterfinals: Steveson tech. fall No. 7 Tanner Hall (Sunkist Kids), 11-0
Semifinals: Steveson tech. fall No. 6 Daniel Kerkvliet (Nittany Lion WC/TMWC), 11-0
Best of 3 Finals: Steveson vs. No. 1 Nick Gwiazdowski (Wolfpack RTC/TMWC)
125kg: No. 5 Tony Nelson
Quarterfinals: No. 4 Dom Bradley (Tiger Style RTC/Sunkist Kids) dec. Nelson, 4-3
Consolation: Nelson vs. No. 8 Garrett Ryan (Sunkist Kids)