Spencer Lee May Win The Hodge, But Don't Sleep On Gable Steveson's Season

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When CP sat down with Gable Steveson before the beginning of the 2020 Big Ten Championships, our FloWrestling captain asked a pretty good question: What had the Minnesota heavyweight learned from his round-one bout against Tony Cassioppi in Iowa City, and what did he expect in Piscataway, NJ?

The answer sounded like something Iron Man would say.

"I mean, I expect the same thing he did last time," Steveson said. "Just sit around and wait for me to do things." 

That's cold!

Look, I love me some Cassioppi. Big Tony is a very, very good wrestler. He's got a high IQ on the mat, and the size paired with the agility that he has isn't something you see a lot. But when the Hawkeye went to battle Steveson both times — the first in Carver-Hawkeye Arena, which ended 7-5; the second at Big Tens, which ended 9-4 — he didn't exactly look competitive, despite the scores indicating the matches were close.

And oh yeah, this happened:


Steveson is a dominant, beastly, scary-good wrestler who is going to be near the top of Hodge Trophy talk over the next couple of years. Spencer Lee is probably going to grab the trophy this year when they announce the winner on Monday, but please do not overlook how nasty Steveson was this year (and last year, too, for that matter). 

Going past the numbers

This year, Lee is superior to Steveson in tech falls (nine to six), major decisions (three to one), and bonus-point percentage (94 percent to 73 percent), and the two are tied in pins with four apiece. But the thing about Steveson is his nonchalance on the mat, his ability to completely dominate a match even without a major decision on the scoresheet.

Take that first bout against Cassioppi by way of example. Out of the five points that Big Tony registered, one was from a penalty in the opening seconds and four were from escapes. He was hardly able to generate anything offensively the entire matchup.

Midway through the second period, Steveson basically isn't even breathing hard. With 30 seconds left, Steveson exploded through a shot to effectively seal the deal. 

You are not going to see many regular decisions as dominant as that display.

Watch Cassioppi vs Steveson, Round 1, here:


Round 2 at the Big Ten Championships was pretty much the same thing. Whenever Steveson wanted to fire a shot, he usually went double-leg (though there was a nasty single-leg and trip in the third) and blew right through the Hawkeye. Cassioppi registered his escapes and generally acquitted himself well, but it is astounding how a very good, very accomplished wrestler like Big Tony can be tackled through by a guy like Steveson.

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The Big Ten title bout vs Michigan's Mason Parris, whose athleticism is closer to Steveson's, proves that the Golden Gopher can pretty much win any way possible. The match looked a lot different than the Steveson-Cassioppi battles, but the results and even the mechanisms to the results were eerily similar: Parris got points via escapes, Steveson scored when he felt like it.

Next year's heavyweight class is dynamite

With Steveson, Parris, Cassioppi, and Greg Kerkvliet and guys like Matt Stencel and Trent Hillger, 285 pounds is just going to be absolute fire next year. 

I'm sure Spencer Lee is going to be gunning for a second consecutive trophy if he does indeed win this year, but if Steveson is able to run the table with that kind of top-end competition plus the depth up with the big boys, he's going to have a very strong argument no matter what Lee does.

Steveson is impossibly athletic and impossibly smart on the mat. Watching him, it's almost impossible to define his approach — in general or in any specific bout — as "aggressive" or "defensive," simply because he seems so calm and at ease until he takes a shot. But when he does take a shot, dang does he take a shot. 

What Dan Gable Can Teach The Hawkeyes About Building A Dynasty

Going Out On A Win

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For Iowa, building a dynasty has been engrained in its blood for 50 years. It began in the mid-1970s, when the Hawkeyes won their first of what would become 23 titles in the span of 43 championship seasons.

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FRL 535 - Predicting Penn State-Nebraska, Michigan-Cornell

535. Predicting PSU-NEB, MICH-Cornell

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On episode 535 of FRL, the boys make predictions for Penn State-Nebraska, Michigan-Cornell, NC State-Michigan, give an update on the recruiting dead period, and questions from friends.

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Dundee Wrestling's Stoney Buell Releases Top 5 Schools

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On March 3, 2018, Brandon Whitman put the finishing touches on a storied high school wrestling career by becoming Dundee's first, four-time Michigan state champion.

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EIWA Releases Statement Regarding 2020-21 Season

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VILLAS, NJ -- The Eastern Intercollegiate Wrestling Association is a wrestling only association whose member schools are all affiliated with other conferences. As such, our member teams may be subject to restrictions imposed by their parent conferences and home states with respect to athletic practice and competition during the current COVID-19 pandemic. 

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Bader Show: BJ Futrell

BJ Futrell

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On this episode of The Bader Show, Bader and Bray talk with BJ Futrell about his new role at Beat The Streets Philly.

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Nathan Tomasello Joins Duke Wrestling Staff

Nathan Tomasello

Another Buckeye is joining the coaching profession. Four-time All-American and 2015 NCAA champion Nathan Tomasello is joining the wrestling staff at Duke University as an assistant coach, becoming the ninth Ohio State alumnus on staff at a collegiate program this season.

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FRL 534 - Cornell-Ohio State, Nebraska-Ohio State Dual Pick'Em

534. Picking Cornell-tOSU, Nebraska-tOSU

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On episode 534 of FRL, the boys make some picks for Cornell-Ohio State, and Nebraska-Ohio State, and give an update on college football.

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Who Is Scoring The Most Points At 57kg And When Are They Scoring Them

Uguev

Who, What, and How Are Points Being Scored At 57kg: Part 2

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Who's #1 Adds Mia Palumbo vs Sage Mortimer

Sage Mia

Who's #1 continues to add to its star-studded slate. The most recent addition is a match between Mia Palumbo and Sage Mortimer, to be contested at 112 pounds.

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Bader Show, Joey McKenna, Gabe Dean & Joe De Sena

Joey McKenna, Gabe Dean, and Joe De Sena

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On this episode of The Bader Show, Bader and Bray talk with Joey McKenna about the PRTC as well as Gabe Dean and Joe De Sena about the Spartan Combat RTC.

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