Gable vs Gwiz - Youth vs Experience

null

Unlock this video, live events, and more with a subscription!

Get Started

Already a subscriber? Log In

Unlock this article, live events, and more with a subscription!

Get Started

Already a subscriber? Log In

The teenage phenom Gable Steveson takes on the two-time world medalist Nick Gwiazdowski today at Final X. Nomad and Spey tell you what you need to know before it all goes down in New Jersey at the RAC. 

Watch Final X: Rutgers Live on Flo

Sat. June 8 | 12:00 PM & 6 PM Eastern

Spey's Take

There are a lot of really good heavyweight wrestlers in America. This is rather obviously evidenced by the two consecutive world bronze medals won by Nick Gwiazdowski, the best freestyle heavyweight in the country the last two years. 

By dint of that 2018 bronze medal, Nick earned a bye to Final X: Rutgers. His challenger to the team spot is the young Gable Steveson. As the credentialed incumbent, Gwiz will be the favorite. But can Steveson, who celebrated his 19th birthday less than a week ago, dethrone Gwiazdowski, and furthermore, win a world championship?

I believe so, and will explain why. 

Learning Curve

For as good as Steveson is right now, there is every reason to believe he hasn't yet reached his ceiling. 

Now, one could bring up the fact that Steveson won a junior level world gold medal in 2017 and then did not place in the 2018 Junior World Championships as evidence that he regressed. But that would be foolish. In the quarterfinals of the 2018 Junior tournament, Steveson was leading 2-0 on Khasanboy Rakhimov of Uzbekistan when Gable went for an ill-advised inside-trip that Rakhimov countered for the pinfall. 

Rakhimov was then beaten in the semifinals by Soslan Khinchagov of Russia which eliminated Steveson from medal contention. Such things happen at heavyweight, where one false step can doom a tournament. This was more a learning opportunity for Steveson than any indication that he may have plateaued as a wrestler. 

A much better indicator would be to compare Gable's domestic results from 2018 to 2019. There is very little movement of heavyweights to other weight classes for obvious reasons, so the fields stay consistent year over year. 

2018

Adam Coon techs Steveson 11-0 (U.S. Open)

Dom Bradley decisions Steveson 4-4 (U.S. Open)

Steveson decisions Bradley 5-4 (WTT Challenge)

Tony Nelson decisions Steveson 4-4 (WTT Challenge)

2019

Steveson decisions Bradley 7-3 (WTT Challenge)

Steveson decisions Nelson 5-1 (WTT Challenge)

Steveson techs Coon 13-3 (WTT Challenge)

Steveson decisions Coon 8-1 (WTT Challenge)

The improvement is dramatic and undeniable. Gable is dang good, but he's also getting better.

Footwork

Gable Steveson has some of the most impressive footwork of any wrestling in the country, heavyweight or not. The nimble steps allow Steveson to maintain better positioning than his opponents, which in turn helps him get to all of his attacks while neutralizing the attacks of his competitor. 

While not as noticeable as having heavy hands (although Gable certainly has those too), but if you watch his matches and focus on the lower extremities, the difference becomes clear. 

A prime example of Steveson's fancy footwork in action can be seen in his dismantling of eventual NCAA runnerup Derek White in a dual meet back in November of 2018, which you can watch below.


And don't just take my word for it, other leading minds agree. 

If you're wondering how Gable does it, it's footwork. All footwork

— Willie Saylor (@WillieAtFLO) May 19, 2019

Precedent

While going from high school senior to teenaged world champion over the course of less than two years is a rare feat, it is not without precedent. It's something we all witnessed Kyle Snyder do between the years of 2014 and 2015.

Like Snyder, Gable took a few losses in his true freshman season at college. Like Snyder, Gable has since avenged some domestic freestyle losses in his first full-time season on the senior freestyle circuit. I wrote more about this precedent in a preview of this year's World Team Trials Challenge Tournament

The two toughest challenges of Gable's quest to match Snyder's pace remain. He has to beat a world medalist to make the world team and then he has to go out and win the world championships bracket, neither of which are anything close to a sure thing. Still, the parallels between the two prodigies are there. 

Freestyle Rules

This point is mainly about freestyle having a penalty for stepping out of bounds, whereas collegiate folkstyle has none. In theory, wrestlers are supposed to be warned for stalling if they back out of bounds in college. But in reality, this is rarely the case. 

The result is that Steveson's advantage via footwork is diminished. When your opponent can find refuge by retreating, it makes it harder to cut off angles, which Gable's footwork helps him accomplish. 

Gable is also more effective on his feet, which makes him and his dextrous underpinnings a more natural fit for freestyle. I won't try to argue that Anthony Cassar only beat Steveson because he was better at folkstyle, but I would very much like to see Cassar and Steveson in a freestyle match, one that I would in all likelihood pick Steveson to win. 

Does all of that evidence mean that I'm picking Gable to beat Gwiz two out of three matches at Final X and then go on to win gold in Nur-Sultan? No, not necessarily. But if that does happen, you better believe I'm going to retweet this article with about a dozen smirking face emojis. 


Nomad's Take

Despite being a two-time world bronze medalist, Nick Gwiazdowski still has room for improvement. In order to prepare himself for another run at a world title, he needs to use Final X as reps for one of his fatal flaws.

In every match Gwiz lost in 2018, he held a lead in the final minute. Think about that, with less than 60 second to go, he held a lead in every match he didn't win last year. So his ability to manage late match situations is perhaps his biggest potential area of growth, and fending off the leg attacks of a young and hungry Gable Steveson will be excellent practice.

Watch Final X: Rutgers Live on Flo

Sat. June 8 | 12 PM & 6 PM Eastern

The Minnesota freshman took Adam Coon down six times between their two matches in Raleigh. His greatest asset is his footwork, not just the raw speed he has, but how light he is on his feet, the timing, and the precision with his steps, all of which were on display against Coon at World Team Trials.

Coming up through the ranks, Steveson's credentials exceeded his opponent's. Gwiz was a late bloomer, not placing in Fargo until after his junior year of high school, never making an age-level world team, and not making the Trials finals until after Tervel Dlagnev retired. Meanwhile, Gable went basically his entire high school career without losing a match, winning three age level world titles in the process, predicated heavily on his leg attacks and go behinds.

I'm not sure what precisely causes theses losses, but it needs to be a point of emphasis for both athletes, and all of Team USA generally. Holding leads late is such a crucial skill, and perhaps it is one that needs to be developed early on.

Perhaps the most egregious and frustrating of Gwiazdowski's losses was in the quarterfinals against Zhiwei Deng of China. The perception once draws came out was that the two-time NCAA champ had been gifted a ticket to the finals, which was probably presumptuous given how difficult international wrestling is, but the feeling was there.

Now, the way Gwiz lost that one was a chest wrap, something we haven't seen Gable do much of. What we have seen Steveson do is score the way Oleksandr Khotsianivskyi did in Dogu or Jamaladin Magomedov did at World Cup. They both attacked Gwiz's lead leg (right), but the Ukrainian went righty collar tie to shot and the Azeri went under Gwiz's same side tie. The latter also used a secondary tie up from that on his winning takedown late.

Part of what makes Gwiz special is his willingness to stay on the offense, and his ability to get the tree trunk legs of other massive heavyweights off the ground. It's very obvious that heavyweights have gotten more athletic and more leg attack dependent, which also means counter defense and efficient shot counts are more important as well.

This article is also nitpicking, because the New York native is an extremely high level, highly credentialed wrestler in the prime of his career. He does a lot right, which is why he's won two world medals, two Pan Am golds, two NCAA titles, won medals at two Ranking Series events, and helped Titan Mercury win a World Clubs Cup title.

In America, he's beaten all of the top heavyweights since 2017: Zach Rey, Dom Bradley, Adam Coon, Tony Nelson, Bobby Telford, Nathan Butler, and Derek White. Internationally, he was the top seed at last year's world championships and is currently #5 in seeding points with one Ranking Series event to go. He's 7-2 at the world championships and is unquestionably one of the 10 best heavyweights on earth.

The world championships are in September this year in Nur-Sultan, Kazakhstan, and if Gwiz wins he'll probably compete two more times before then. So he'll have plenty of time to practice protecting leads against quality competition. But this Saturday at the RAC will be perhaps his best opportunity to begin prepping himself to hold a late lead against someone trying to steal a world title chance from him.

The Complete Kyle Dake-Frank Chamizo Chronological Timeline

null

Unlock this video, live events, and more with a subscription!

Get Started

Already a subscriber? Log In

Frank Chamizo and Kyle Dake are both multiple-time world champions, have wrestled at least three different weights during their Senior level careers, and are masters of defense. However, the paths they took to get to their super match on July 25th couldn't be more different. Today, beginning with 2010, I'll take you on a year by year journey through Chamizo and Dake's careers to show how they got here.

Unlock this article, live events, and more with a subscription!

Get Started

Already a subscriber? Log In

Myles Martin vs David Taylor Added To July 25th Card

null

Unlock this video, live events, and more with a subscription!

Get Started

Already a subscriber? Log In

After Pat Downey was removed from the July 25 card, a number of conversation swirled about Downey's replacement. Myles Martin, the #8 ranked 86kg in the world, has stepped in to take on the 2018 world champ.

Create a free account to unlock this article!

Get Started

Already a subscriber?  Log In

Bader Show: Jack Mueller & Vito Arujau

Jack Mueller and Vito Arujau

Unlock this video, live events, and more with a subscription!

Get Started

Already a subscriber? Log In

On this episode of The Bader Show, Bader and Spey talk with Jack Mueller and Vito Arujau before their upcoming matches on the July 25 Dake vs Chamizo card.

Unlock this article, live events, and more with a subscription!

Get Started

Already a subscriber? Log In

Spencer Lee Looks To Join The Ranks Of The Hawkeye Olympic Greats

null

Unlock this video, live events, and more with a subscription!

Get Started

Already a subscriber? Log In

Leading up to the 2020 Olympic Trials that were set for State College, PA, at the beginning of April, multiple Hawkeyes were making headlines in their quest for a spot on the national team. 

Unlock this article, live events, and more with a subscription!

Get Started

Already a subscriber? Log In

FRL 522 - Luke Pletcher Hops On To Talk Darrion Caldwell

522. Luke Pletcher On Darrion Caldwell

Unlock this video, live events, and more with a subscription!

Get Started

Already a subscriber? Log In

On episode 522 of FRL, Luke Pletcher joins the show to discuss his matchup with Darrion Caldwell, the boys give an update on the possibility of World Championships happening in 2020, Jenna Burkert on the move, an update on Bellarmine, and more.

Unlock this article, live events, and more with a subscription!

Get Started

Already a subscriber? Log In

Jordan Burroughs Announces Future Move To Penn RTC

Five-time World and Olympic champion Jordan Burroughs announced via his personal blog today that he will continue training with the Nebraska RTC through the 2021 Olympics and then make the move to the Pennsylvania RTC.

Create a free account to unlock this article!

Get Started

Already a subscriber?  Log In

Kyle Dake's Ever-Growing Hit List

null

Unlock this video, live events, and more with a subscription!

Get Started

Already a subscriber? Log In

Since Nomad last compiled Kyle Dake's resume a year ago, Dake has remained undefeated and has added to his legacy with another world title and another handful of impressive wins.

Unlock this article, live events, and more with a subscription!

Get Started

Already a subscriber? Log In

Bader Show: Sammy Alvarez & Luke Pletcher

Sammy Alvarez and Luke Pletcher

Unlock this video, live events, and more with a subscription!

Get Started

Already a subscriber? Log In

On this episode of The Bader Show, Bader and Bray talk with Sammy Alvarez and Luke Pletcher before their upcoming matches on July 25.

Unlock this article, live events, and more with a subscription!

Get Started

Already a subscriber? Log In

Inside Anthony Echemendia's Recruitment & Decision To Become A Buckeye

null

Cuban defector Anthony Echemendia ran, swam, and flew across four borders before landing at Sunnyside High School in Tucson, Arizona. While there, his noteworthy performance at Fargo earned him two championships, which jump-started his recruiting process.

Unlock this article, live events, and more with a subscription!

Get Started

Already a subscriber? Log In

Top High Schoolers Returning To The Mat August 2 & 3 Live On Flo

Green Country Highlights

Unlock this video, live events, and more with a subscription!

Get Started

Already a subscriber? Log In

The best high school kids in the country will be back on the mats August 2nd and 3rd in Jenks, Oklahoma, for the World of Wrestling Summer Showcase. A developmental camp, world class technicians will show technique while wrestlers get the opportunity to train and compete with each other.

Create a free account to unlock this article!

Get Started

Already a subscriber?  Log In