Gophers wrestler Gable Steveson has qualified for the 2020 U.S. Olympic trials even though he hasn’t been able to practice or compete with the University of Minnesota team since June.
Steveson, an Apple Valley native, remains under investigation in Hennepin County on suspicion of criminal sexual conduct.
He qualified for the trials by winning the 125-kilogram freestyle class last weekend at the Bill Farrell Memorial International Open in New York City. He defeated Dominique Bradley 4-1.
The trials will be held April 4-5 at Penn State. Winners at the trials will join the U.S. Olympic team in Tokyo next summer.
In a recording posted on flowrestling.com, Steveson spoke from New York about the result. “It feels real good,” he said. “I mean, I’ve been working hard these past few months, getting my body back right, eating all the good things. This is one of those competitions to get me ready for the Olympic trials. I’m looking forward to being at Penn State in April and hopefully get my Olympic spot.”
Back in Minnesota, Steveson remains suspended from the Gophers as the season is about to ramp up. He was expected to be a star this year as the U prepares to play host to the 2020 NCAA championships at U.S. Bank Stadium in March. In 2018-19 as a freshman, Steveson went 35-2 and finished third at the NCAAs.
But he and junior teammate Dylan Martinez were suspended from the team in June under the student-athlete code of conduct after they were arrested and booked into the Hennepin County jail on suspicion of criminal sexual conduct.
Neither man has been charged. The Hennepin County Attorney’s Office initially announced a decision would be made within 90 days. That deadline has long passed, and prosecutors have given no indication as to whether the men will be charged or when an investigation could be complete. Even without a decision by County Attorney Mike Freeman’s office, the U’s code of conduct applies. It states that athletes arrested for, charged with, or under investigation for criminal allegations are suspended from team activities pending resolution of the investigation or at the discretion of the athletic director. That would appear to give athletic director Mark Coyle the authority to let them back on the team. He has made no such move.
Robert Steveson, the wrestler’s father, said he wanted it known that his son qualified for the trials. “I’m a proud dad,” Robert said this week.
It wasn’t immediately clear from USA Wrestling, the sport’s governing body, whether the investigation would affect Steveson’s Olympic status.
Steveson’s father referred additional questions to the family’s lawyer Lee Hutton. As for Steveson’s eligibility at the U, Hutton said, “I haven’t heard anything.”
Steveson’s other attorney, Christa Groshek, has previously said that her client maintains his innocence but would cooperate with the investigation. A U spokesman confirmed that Steveson is still enrolled and that his suspension under the code of conduct remains in place.