Tony Nelson and Gable Steveson have practiced and pounded on each other on the mat for years, making each other better. But this weekend, there’s only one heavyweight spot on the U.S. men’s freestyle team.
He wasn’t interested in an autograph or a photo, or any of the other tokens a kid might want from an idol. When Gable Steveson showed up at the wrestling room after school, looking to meet Gophers heavyweight Tony Nelson, he had something much bigger in mind.
Steveson was a seventh-grader then, an Apple Valley wrestling prodigy with grand plans. He remembers thinking Nelson — the 6-4, 250-pound reigning NCAA champion — looked “just huge.” But there was only one thing Steveson wanted that day: to get on the mat with the Gophers star and see how he measured up.
“Tony was the man,” said Steveson, who became the Gophers’ latest NCAA champion last month. “All the heavyweights looked up to him. He was one of those guys that just dominated everyone, and that’s how I wanted to be.” Continue reading at startribune.com →