Gophers’ Steveson wins Hodge again as top college wrestler

Newton, Iowa – Olympic gold medalist and two-time NCAA champion Gable Steveson of Minnesota was named a repeat Dan Hodge Trophy offender as the top college wrestler.

WIN magazine reported Monday that Steveson received 49 of 59 first-place votes from a panel of retired coaches, a representative from each of the national wrestling organizations, members of the media, former winners and of fans.

Three-time NCAA champion Yianni Diakomihalis of Cornell was second and two-time national champion Nick Lee of Penn State was third.

Steveson won Olympic gold in Tokyo in August, scoring two eliminations in the final 10 seconds to beat Geno Petriashvili of Georgia 8-5 in the 125 kilogram final.

Steveson won 6-2 over Arizona State’s Cohlton Schultz in the NCAA Finals in Detroit on March 19. He is the first heavyweight to win the Hodge Award twice and the second wrestler from Minnesota to win it, following 133-pound Jayson Ness in 2010.

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The criteria for the Hodge are record, bonus point percentage, quality of competition and sportsmanship. Gable has earned bonus points in 83% of his games while going 18-0.

Gable left his shoes on the mat after winning his NCAA title, signifying his retirement from amateur wrestling. He has already signed a professional wrestling contract with WWE.

“Gable is one of the best competitors I’ve ever been around,” Minnesota coach Brandon Eggum said. “He hasn’t even reached his peak yet and we could see the greatest heavyweight of all time.”

The Dan Hodge award is named after the three-time undefeated NCAA champion at 177 pounds for Oklahoma.

Robert J. King