SAINT LOUIS, Mo. – Caden Steffen (22-4) finished sixth at 184 pounds after going 1-2 on the second day and 3-3 overall at the NCAA Wrestling Championships inside the Chaifetz Center in St. Louis on Saturday afternoon.
Steffen opened his day with seventh-seeded Anderson Salisbury of Colorado School of Mines, with each wrestler recording an escape to go into overtime tied 1-1. Steffen would prevail with 1:12 left in the overtime period, recording a takedown to earn the victory and advance to the next round.
Steffen’s next match would be against third-seeded Billy Higgins of Nebraska-Kearney, with the winner advancing to the third-place match. After a second period escape to take a 1-0 lead into the third, Steffen would run into trouble, giving up an early escape and then a takedown with 55 seconds left. He then would get put on his back, giving up four near-fall points to put the match out of reach. Steffen would escape with just under 30 seconds left, but it wouldn’t be enough to move past Higgins, putting Steffen into the fifth-place match-up.
Steffen’s day would conclude with sixth-ranked Martin Verhaeghe of Fort Hays State. After a scoreless first period, the fireworks would begin in the second, with Steffen recording an escape, Verhaeghe getting a takedown, and then each wrestler getting a reversal to put the match at 4-3 in favor of Verhaeghe. After giving up an early escape, Steffen would tie the match with a takedown with 1:30 left to go to tie the match. Verhaeghe would again earn an escape with 1:20 to go before waiting out the rest of the match to pick up the victory and earn fifth place.
After a win in his final match on Friday night, Steffen earned the 15th All-American season in program history during the DII era and is the third Mustang to earn All-American honors multiple times, joining Justin Reinsma (2012, 2013), and his father, Link (1997, 1998) as the only others to accomplish the feat.
This wraps up the season for Southwest Minnesota State wrestling, going 2-6 as a team and having two wrestlers finish in the top four in the region, including Steffen becoming the third wrestler in program history to win a regional championship.