Ohio State junior Logan Stieber has won two NCAA titles and is a U.S. National Team member in freestyle. Larry Slater photo.
College wrestling is more enjoyable now for Ohio State junior Logan Stieber.
A move up from 133 to 141 pounds this season has the two-time NCAA champion feeling bigger, stronger and better as he continues his run at history.
“I’m very happy to be moving up a weight class,” he said. “It was getting to be too much to make 133 – I hated wrestling some days. I love wrestling, but it was tough to make 133. I’ve put on a lot of muscle and I keep getting bigger. I feel great at 141.”
A bigger Stieber looked strong in downing Oklahoma’s Kendric Maple in a battle of returning NCAA champions in the NWCA All-Star Classic on Saturday at George Mason University.
Stieber beat Maple 6-4 in overtime, gaining a reversal in the first tiebreaker period before riding Maple out in the second tiebreaker to earn the win.
Making the win even more impressive was Stieber agreed to move up to 149 for the exhibition bout. Maple is bumping up to 149 this season after winning a 2013 NCAA title at 141.
“It was a great match – we both created a lot of action,” Stieber said. “I felt great out there and I didn’t really get tired. Kendric is an awesome wrestler. It gives me a lot of confidence to let me know I have trust in my training. It’s a great way to start the year.”
Stieber has excelled for a strong Ohio State program that has thrived under Coach Tom Ryan.
“Logan’s an example in every way,” Ryan said. “From academically to socially, his work ethic, his ability to stay humble, and his leadership as a team member – he’s set a tremendous standard here. We are very fortunate to have him in our program. He’s also shown potential recruits the proof that freshmen can win an NCAA title at Ohio State.”
Stieber is halfway to joining Oklahoma State’s Pat Smith, Iowa State’s Cael Sanderson and Cornell’s Kyle Dake in the exclusive club of four-time NCAA champions.
“Logan definitely has the capability of winning four,” Ryan said. “That’s why I was jumping around like a madman when he won his first title. I’m really excited to see him have the opportunity to do that.”
Stieber knows how difficult it is to win just one NCAA title. He edged Oklahoma State’s Jordan Oliver, who won two NCAA titles, in the national finals as a freshman. He then held off Iowa’s Tony Ramos in a close NCAA finals battle this past March.
“I know it’s a cliché, but right now I am really just thinking about having the opportunity to win three,” Stieber said. “There are a lot of tough guys in my weight class this year. I can’t think about four or I will lose track of three.”
Stieber said he doesn’t foresee making any major changes in how he approaches this season.
“The only big difference is my brother (All-American Hunter Stieber) is redshirting, but a lot of it is the same,” Logan said. “I just have to stick to the plan and stay on course. I trust my coaches and I keep getting better. I have great training partners and a great training environment.”
Stieber is one of the best freestyle wrestling prospects in the United States.
"Logan’s always been a top performer his whole life," U.S. National Coach Zeke Jones said. "He’s won at every age group and knows what it takes. He’s tough as nails and has a heck of a leg attack. He’s relentless on the single leg.
"He’s a hard worker, has good family support, and has a group of coaches and training partners that know what it takes to win at the highest level. Those are the ingredients for winning gold."
A 2011 Junior World silver medalist, Stieber placed second at the 2012 Olympic Trials and third at the 2013 World Team Trials.
“Being an Olympic champion has been a goal since fifth or sixth grade,” he said. “It’s my main goal in wrestling.”
Stieber has been excelling on the Senior level against older and more experienced wrestlers since he was in high school.
“Logan wants to be an Olympic champion,” Ryan said. “It’s a very realistic goal and it’s something he embraces.”