If everything goes as expected on Saturday night in Detroit, Gable Steveson will win his second consecutive NCAA wrestling championship and complete his third straight undefeated season.
He'll follow that up, he has tweeted, by removing his shoes and placing them in the center of the mat, the sign that a wrestler is retiring.
Steveson, a senior for the Gophers, will wrap up his amateur wrestling career in the NCAA championships, which run Thursday through Saturday, with what is expected to be a final coronation of one of the most dominant wrestlers of recent memory. A title would give the former Apple Valley star, who's 80-2 in his Gophers career, bookend collegiate crowns to go along with the Olympic gold medal he won in Tokyo in August in dramatic fashion.
Brandon Eggum, Steveson's coach with the Gophers and in his corner at the Olympics, puts the heavyweight in historic company.
"I hope Minnesota fans understand and appreciate this. This is one of a kind,'' Eggum said. "Maybe the greatest athlete to ever come through the University of Minnesota when you look at what he's really done at the level and the age he's at.''
When Steveson finishes the NCAA tournament, he'll turn his focus to professional wrestling. Last September, he signed a name, image and likeness contract with WWE that allowed him to wrestle one last year with the Gophers before leaving for the glitzy and highly paid life of pro wrestling.
"A lot of kids grow up watching WWE and UFC and want to be the next superstar,'' said Steveson, who signed a three-year contract. "I have the chance to be the next Rock, and that's what I'm going to do.''
First though, is finishing a Gophers career for the ages.
Steveson is 13-0 this season, earning bonus points in 12 matches with one fall, four technical falls (wins by 15 or more points that end the match) and seven major decisions (wins by 8-14 points). His other win was by forfeit. Steveson has won three consecutive Big Ten tournament titles and has two major decisions this season over Michigan's Mason Parris, the 2021 NCAA runner-up, and a major over Iowa's Tony Cassioppi, the No. 3 seed in the NCAA field.
Other than one penalty point awarded an opponent, Steveson has given up only escapes, good for one point, this season. And many of those escapes came when he cut loose the opponent to quickly take him down again. The last opponent to score a takedown against Steveson was Penn State's Greg Kerkvliet, the former Simley standout who scored the two-point move during a 9-4 loss to the Gopher in last year's NCAA quarterfinals.
"For most guys,'' Eggum said, "the goal is not to win but keep it as close as they can against Gable.''
Steveson's quickness is something that collegiate opponents haven't been able to handle, and that's no surprise given how he finished last year's Olympic final in the 125-kg freestyle division. Trailing three-time world champion Geno Petriashvili 8-5, Steveson scored two takedowns in the final 10 seconds, including the winning two-pointer with two-tenths of a second left, to win gold.
Steveson wants his collegiate career to end at the pinnacle, too.
"It's bittersweet,'' he said. "It's my last NCAA tournament. Just want to make sure everybody ends on a good note and make sure everybody watches a good show. When the lights hit, Gable hits better.''