Gophers wrestler Gable Steveson wins 2021 Dan Hodge Trophy

Gopher wrestler Gable Steveson won his second straight Big Ten title over the weekend and was named the league's Most Outstanding Wrestler. ((credit: Big Ten Conference))

Fresh off winning his first national championship, University of Minnesota wrestler Gable Steveson on Monday was named the co-winner of the 2021 Dan Hodge Trophy.

The award goes annually to the top athlete in college wrestling. Steveson is sharing the honor with Iowa star Spencer Lee. It’s just the second time in 27 years that two wrestlers are sharing the honor. Steveson said Monday the award has been on his mind the entire season.

"It was a bit of a surprise when I got the news because Spencer Lee is such a great wrestler," Steveson said in statement. "But winning the Hodge Trophy is something I thought about all year. Winning the NCAA was first but then I wanted to win the Hodge, too. It was a childhood dream and now it's crazy to see that it's happened."

"This is such an amazing award and a great honor for Gable and for our program," Gophers coach Brandon Eggum said in a statement. "We're very excited about it. We knew it was going to be a tough race, with Spencer Lee, who is an outstanding champion too."

Steveson capped off a 17-0 season in 2021 with a national title, beating Mason Parris in an 8-4 decision in a rematch of the title match at the Big Ten Championships. Steveson also beat Iowa’s Tony Cassioppi in a 16-6 major decision in the semifinals to wrestle for a national championship.

Steveson had three major decisions, four pins and seven technical falls among his 17 wins. He also ended the season on a 34-match win streak.

"Gable is special," Eggum said. "He's very hard to wrestle because he is always on offense, always ready to change levels, and has a variety of moves from the feet. He does all the little things right in his training, with his nutrition and weight training and things like that."

The Apple Valley native is a three-time All-American, has won two Big Ten titles and is 67-2 for his career. Steveson hasn’t lost a match since the NCAA Championship semifinals in 2019.

Steveson is the second Gopher to win the Hodge Trophy, joining four-time All-American Jayson Ness. Primary criteria for the award are a wrestler's record, number of pins, dominance and quality of competition. Past credentials, sportsmanship/citizenship and heart are used as secondary criteria in years where two finalists' stats are nearly equal.

 Steveson is now headed to Fort Worth, Texas for this weekend's U.S. Olympic Trials.