Gophers’ NCAA heavyweight champs past and present could meet at U.S. Olympic wrestling trials

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 →

Dream delayed: Tony Nelson continues to prepare for Olympic challenge

This was supposed to be Tony Nelson’s final year as a competitive international wrestler.

And his plan for 2020 was simple: Earn a trip to Toyko as a member of the United States Olympic wrestling team, then retire in a blaze of glory on the Olympic stage.

“My original goal was to be done after this year,” Nelson said. “I have three kids, so that adds a factor to training. I had even given my wife a timeline. And then this happened.”

“This” is the COVID-19 pandemic that has put everyone’s life in stasis. For Nelson, his dreams have been deferred to 2021 as the Olympic Trials, the qualifying events for the U.S. Olympic team that were scheduled for early April, were postponed, as were the Tokyo Olympics.

Nelson, a 2009 graduate of Cambridge-Isanti High School, won two state titles in high school as well as two NCAA titles at the University of Minnesota. Nelson had a 141-18 record with the Bluejackets and was 131-16 with the Golden Gophers. Continue reading at hometownsource.com

Tony Nelson Wins Gold at 2020 Pan-Am Championships

Gophers alum and two-time NCAA Champion Tony Nelson (’14) took home the 125kg gold medal at the 2020 Pan-American Championships on Monday.

Nelson won three straight matches before getting an injury default in the gold medal match over Amarveer Dhesi of Canada. Nelson’s run began with a 2-2 criteria win before a 4-0 shutout in the following round and a semifinal pin in 70 seconds to advance. He was one of six American champions on the day.

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Tony ‘full’ Nelson returns to international wrestling stage

Tony Nelson is back to “full” strength, if you will pardon the wrestling pun.

A shoulder surgery in November 2017 forced the former Cambridge-Isanti High School and University of Minnesota standout to prove he remains one of the top heavyweight wrestlers in the world.

And that is exactly what Nelson did, placing second in the 125-kilogram weight class (275 pounds) at the U.S. Open held in Las Vegas April 25-28.

“I wrestled well this past weekend, and I know I can beat everybody,” Nelson said. “Wrestling is about going in with the right attitude: You have to believe in yourself and have no doubt that you’re going to be the guy. … That’s the mindset I have to bring to the mat.” Continue reading at hometownsource.com

Gophers Greats Head to Freestyle World Cup

Two former Gopher greats, Zach Sanders and Tony Nelson, are headed to Yakutsk, Russia, for the Freestyle World Cup on March 16-17.

Sanders (’12), a four-time All-American, is also a volunteer coach for the Gopher wrestling team. He’ll comete at 57kg after a career with the Gophers at 125-pounds.

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Former Gophers Great Tony Nelson Back on International Circuit

The Minnesota storm, the professional training club of Gopher wrestling comprised of many Gophers, is sending former Gopher legend Tony Nelson to Vladikavkaz, Ossetia, Russia, to compete in the Alans International Tournament.

The former Gopher heavyweight, a two-time national champion, is the 125-kilogram representative for the U.S. Men’s freestyle wrestling team. This is Nelson’s first international tournament since he won the bronze medal at the Ion Cornianu & Ladislau Simon Memorial in 2017.

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