Steveson repeats as NCAA champ, retires

Title defense follows Olympic gold in Tokyo

NCAA Championships Wrestling
Minnesota's Gable Steveson leaves his shoes on the mat, a sign of retirement in wrestling, after defeating Arizona State's Cohlton Schultz during their heavyweight match in the finals of the NCAA Division I wrestling championships in Detroit, Saturday, March 19, 2022. (Andy Morrison/Detroit News via AP)
Andy Morrison/AP

Olympic gold medalist Gable Steveson of Minnesota successfully defended his heavyweight title in his final college match.

The top-seeded Steveson, who took gold in Tokyo last summer, won 6-2 over Arizona State's second-seeded Cohlton Schultz. Steveson took control from the outset, scoring a takedown in the opening seconds.

After the match, he flexed to the crowd three times. Fans at Little Caesars Arena continued to cheer, urging him to do his trademark victory backflip. He executed it to perfection and flexed again.

Then he went to the center of the mat, sat down and took off his shoes and left them there, the time-honored practice of wrestlers signaling their retirement. Steveson won his last 54 matches.

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“I’m done,” he said in a post-match ESPN interview. “I did what I came to do. I was going to win the Olympic gold and win the national tournament again.”

Steveson's retirement from amateur wrestling was expected. He has said he's interested in becoming a professional wrestler and that he will attend WrestleMania in April, though he would not say if he’ll be involved in any way.

“I hope I gain many WWE fans when I take the next step,” he said.

Other champions

Cornell's Yianni Diakomihalis became a three-time champion during the event. Diakomihalis was never seriously threatened over his five matches, winning the 149-pound title with an 11-5 decision over Nebraska's 10th-seeded Ridge Lovett.

And Penn State wrapped up its ninth team title in 11 years hours before the finals, then had five of its wrestlers win individual championships. Michigan was second for its highest team finish in program history, and 2021 champion Iowa was third.