With big upset, Steinhaus’ stock stays on the rise

by Derek Wetmore

Even with a 136-0 record and three high school state championships, Kevin Steinhaus wasnâÄôt a prolific recruit since most Division I wrestlers dominate the preps rank. But now in his redshirt freshman season, he hasnâÄôt slowed down much. Steinhaus, a native of Pennock, Minn., picked up a key upset against No. 2 Oklahoma State on Sunday, dominating No. 8 Chris Perry 8-2. It may have shocked the home crowd at the Sports Pavilion, but there were at least 50 people who werenâÄôt surprised. One full bus, and a second overflow bus, loaded up to make the two-hour trip from Pennock to Minneapolis to watch their hometown boy. âÄúIt was really cool to have the bigger crowd cheering all for yourself,âÄù Steinhaus said. âÄúIt gives you some adrenaline and gives you more motivation.âÄù Steinhaus has burst on the scene this year as the GophersâÄô starter at 184 pounds, winning the Bison Open, taking second at the Kaufman-Brand Open and, most recently, shocking Perry. Head coach J Robinson said he likes the progress of the formerly-fifth-ranked recruit. âÄúSteinhaus is going to be good because heâÄôs diligent, he works at what he does,âÄù Robinson said. âÄúHeâÄôs worked on his technique and his shape and heâÄôs made good progress. If you can improve, youâÄôll win more, and heâÄôs done a great job of that.âÄù As a redshirt, Steinhaus could wrestle only in open meets, but he put together an impressive 20-3 record, including a title at the Kaufman-Brand Open, and was one of only eight Gophers to reach the 20-win mark. He closed the season with an 11-match win streak and, to top it off, posted the highest GPA of any freshman wrestler. With that early-season success and signature victory, Steinhaus could break into the top-20 soon. ThatâÄôs the threshold between ranked wrestler and âÄújust another guy.âÄù For instance, heavyweight Tony Nelson was unranked entering the season, but has risen to No. 9 after some key victories. If the latest win doesnâÄôt land him among the top-20 wrestlers nationwide, heâÄôll have a chance to seriously bolster his case Thursday. Steinhaus is slated to face No. 10 Josh Ihnen when the Gophers travel to wrestle Nebraska. Even with his immaculate high school credentials, Steinhaus said heâÄôs improved substantially from wrestling with a program full of elite athletes. âÄúItâÄôs been really cool even to see the change in my own wrestling,âÄù he said. âÄúI came in last year and youâÄôre just forced to get better with the way these guys compete in the practice room.âÄù Steinhaus is an aggressive offensive wrestler, which is valuable when team points are at a premium like they were Sunday, when the Gophers narrowly lost 17-16. âÄúOne of the things heâÄôs learned is going forward and keeping the pressure on the opponent,âÄù Robinson said. âÄúHeâÄôs learned that lesson really well. ItâÄôs what we tell everybody, but heâÄôs a great example of putting to practice. âÄúHe doesnâÄôt leave any stone unturned. ItâÄôs freshmen like him that we have to have to keep the program the way it is.âÄù