Steveson holds off Kerkvliet in high school wrestling battle for the ages

Vince McMahon would have been proud.

Apple Valley senior Gable Steveson certainly did his part as a promoter in the days leading up to Friday night’s much-anticipated high school wrestling showdown against Simley junior Daniel “Greg” Kerkvliet Jr. It was surprisingly close, but Steveson held on for a 3-2 win before a raucous crowd of 1,900 in Inver Grove Heights.

A dual meet between the two traditional state powers provided a worthy undercard, with the Class 3A Eagles claiming a 38-24 victory over their Class 2A foes.

“The whole atmosphere was great,” Kerkvliet said after his first loss since a freestyle match at Junior Duals last summer in Tulsa, Okla. “The hoopla around it, the media, everybody coming out — it was energetic. This was a big one.” Continue reading at

Mega-match scheduled at Simley

World champs Steveson, Kerkvliet expected to face each other Friday night

One of the most anticipated matches of the Minnesota high school wrestling season – and one that couldn’t take place at the state tournament – is scheduled Friday evening at Simley High School.

On the large scale, the match between Apple Valley (ranked first in Class 3A) and Simley (ranked second in Class 2A) would be enticing enough for the sport’s followers. But they might be even more interested in the match within the match. Two world champions, Apple Valley’s Gable Steveson and Simley’s Daniel Kerkvliet, are expected to face each other in the heavyweight match. Steveson won the 264-pound weight class at the Junior World Championships last summer, and his victory also gave the United States the team championship. The previous two years, Steveson won Cadet World titles.

Kerkvliet is a reigning Cadet World champion. Continue reading at

Eagle wrestlers going about their business

With new coaching roles settled, Apple Valley seeks 13th consecutive state title

The last thing a team with a 12-year state championship streak needs is a shakeup at the top, and Apple Valley’s wrestling squad has avoided that.

Oh, the Eagles have a new head coach — Josh Barlage, who had been an assistant in the program since 2007. But many of the same coaches who guided the Eagles for the last decade or more have remained, including Dalen Wasmund, who was the Eagles’ head coach the last five years and remains with the program as an assistant coach.

In practice, “as far as being in the room, on the mat, I don’t really see a difference,” said Eagles junior Sebas Swiggum, who’s ranked fifth in Class 3A at 138 pounds. “Coach Wasmund is still up here. We still have the same people.”

When Barlage was hired last summer as the fourth head coach in Apple Valley High School wrestling history, he said he planned to speak with Wasmund about staying with the team, and it became clear that was a priority. Continue reading at

Apple Valley’s Gable Steveson poised for another monster season

Leaning away from an interview in the hallway after school, Apple Valley wrestler Gable Steveson called out to football coach Chad Clendening, who just happened to be walking past.

“Hey Clendening! He’s asking about football.”

Clendening turned and shook his head. “That’s a broken record. From the day he walked into Valley Middle School, I’ve been on him.”

With good reason. Steveson, a senior, is the No. 1 high school wrestler in the nation. A heavyweight with an unmatched of blend of strength and speed, balance
and bravado. He’d be devastating as a defensive end, for example. He stands just six-feet tall and weighs upwards of 250 pounds, but dunks a basketball with ease. He skated with the Apple Valley hockey team earlier this season (“I’ve skated before but that was the first time I’ve played hockey,” he said) and held his own. Continue reading at

Gross wins at NWCA All-Star Classic

PRINCETON, N.J. – In a matchup between the top-two ranked wrestlers at 133 pounds in preseason polls, South Dakota State’s Seth Gross scored a 7-1 decision over Michigan’s Stevan Micic Sunday afternoon at the 52nd annual NWCA All-Star Classic.

A junior from Apple Valley, Minnesota, the top-ranked Gross scored an early first-period takedown before giving up an escape to Micic later in the period. Gross then rode out the entire second period, picking up a point for stalling in the process. After recording an escape seconds into the third period, Gross again took down Micic for two points and picked up a final point in the exhibition match for a riding-time advantage that neared five minutes.

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Q&A: Junior World Champion Wrestler Gable Steveson Talks Gophers and Wrestling Dominance

It would be hard to characterize Apple Valley wrestler Gable Steveson as a poor loser. In fact, the Gopher commit really has no experience coming up on the short end on the mat.

Steveson has not lost a match since he finished as runner-up in 2014 as an eighth grader.

Steveson is ranked as the top heavyweight high school wrestler in the country by InterMat Wrestling and was named the American Family Insurance All-USA Wrestler of The Year.

Steveson defeated Iran’s Naeiim Hassanzadeh 5-1 for the Junior World Championship gold medal in Tampere, Finland earlier this month to win his third World title and first as a junior. The win was the difference as the U.S. team defeated Russia 68-67 to capture its first world juniors team title since 1984. Continue reading at

Sabers and Eagles start the season off with a bang

By Brian Jerzak

Apple Valley – What a way to start the high school wrestling season. When the clock hit double zeros, and Apple Valley’s Tanyi Besong completed his 3-1 victory, the scoreboard read Shakopee 29 Apple Valley 28. For the first time in ten years, the Apple Valley Eagles’ wrestling team came out on the wrong side of the scoreboard against a team from Minnesota. It was the first time since 1991 that the Eagles lost a conference dual meet.

I don’t know how long ago wrestling programs must have their schedules set, but kudos to the Apple Valley Eagles and Shakopee Sabers for putting on an outstanding show and for jumping right into the season with a number one versus number two match up. The gym was packed with wrestling fans from around the area. In addition to Apple Valley and Shakopee fans, I spotted an Owatonna shirt and Farmington shirt in the stands, and I am sure there were, even more, communities represented.

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