It’s known as the “Quarantine 15,” the extra pounds people put on this spring while being sequestered at home and left to their own, undisciplined devices during the early stages of the coronavirus pandemic.
Gable Steveson has his own twist on the subject. He’s added the COVID-20, an extra 20 pounds of muscle that the Gophers heavyweight wrestler will use to his advantage on the mat.
“I put on some extra pounds, some good weight, and I’m staying fast on my feet and being the most athletic person I can be,” Steveson said. “I really think I’ve transformed into the powerhouse I should be.”
That will be on display Thursday night when Steveson competes in the Beat the Streets wrestling event. Steveson, the former Apple Valley standout and 2020 Big Ten champion, will face Wisconsin’s Trent Hillger in a 125-kilogram freestyle match at an undisclosed location in the New York area. The match, part of a six-bout event, will be streamed at 6:30 p.m. on flo-wrestling.org, a subscription service.
Beat the Streets usually is staged in Times Square, but COVID-19 precautions prompted organizers to hold it without fans. Steveson carried a 15-0 record into this year’s NCAA Championships at U.S. Bank Stadium, but the tournament was canceled a week before it would have started. Thursday’s event will mark the first competition since then for the showman who loves the limelight.
“This match is going to be a game-changer to me just because people can see the work that I have put in behind the scenes,” Steveson said. “You’re going to see a big, drastic change as to who Gable Steveson is and what he can be and how I’ve grown into my true form right now.”
Steveson has been training at Pinnacle Wrestling School in Roseville. He expects a strong challenge from Hillger, who finished fourth in the 2020 Big Ten tournament and eighth in the 2019 NCAA Championships.
“I know what he’s going to do, and he knows what I’m going to do,” said Steveson, who owns 10-5, 11-2 and 10-4 wins over Hillger over the past two college seasons.
With wrestling being a close-contact sport, COVID-19 can be a concern. Steveson said he’s tested negative for the virus and was tested again after he arrived in New York on Wednesday.
He’s eager to compete again.
“Everyone knows I like the stage and I like the crowd, but zero fans to 10,000 fans, it doesn’t matter,” Steveson said. “It’s a one-on-one matchup between you and your opponent to see who gives up first.”
Beat the Streets
A look at the matches in the Beat the Streets wrestling event, which will be streamed at 6:30 p.m. Thursday on flowrestling.org.:
• Augsburg’s Emily Shilson of Maple Grove against Felicity Taylor at 50 kg.
• Wisconsin assistant coach Seth Gross, a former NCAA champion from Apple Valley, against Joe Colon, a bronze medalist at world championships at 57 kg.
• Rustam Ampar of Russia vs. 2019 NCAA runner-up Jack Mueller of Virginia at 57 kg.
• No. 3-ranked Alexandria Glaude vs. No. 4 Victoria Francis at 68 kg.
• Gable Steveson, Gophers, vs. Trent Hillger, Wisconsin, at 125 kg.
• And the feature match, Yianni Diakomihalis, the No. 3-ranked U.S. wrestler at 65 kg, vs. Vladimir Khinchegashvili of Georgia, the 2016 Olympic champion at 57 kg.