No stranger to the big stage
Ohio State's Logan Stieber continues to thrive in big matches
OKLAHOMA CITY -- Been there, done that.
Ohio State's Logan Stieber has faced the best in the world, in freestyle and folkstyle. An Ohio State junior, Stieber beat Oklahoma State's Jordan Oliver in the NCAA finals at 133 pounds when he was a freshman. A year later, he beat Iowa's Tony Ramos on the big stage for his second title in two seasons.
So, wrestling in a big match in front of 15,000 is not going to faze Stieber.
Back in December, a young freshman from Penn State named Zain Retherford shocked Stieber in a dual meet. That loss was avenged at the Big Ten Championships.
Add another big match to the resumé.
As expected, Stieber (28-1) has moved through the bracket, scoring a pair of falls and adding a technical fall. Retherford (32-1) has won three tough bouts to advance to the semifinals and another match with the two-time champion.
"It's a big match, but for the most part I try to treat every match like I have since high school," said Stieber after his first-period pin in the quarterfinals. "I have good guys in practice, wrestle with my coaches and I've been in big tournaments so it doesn't faze me. It's important to remain calm during a seven-minute match."
Only three wrestlers have won four NCAA titles. Last March, Cornell's Kyle Dake joined Iowa State's Cael Sanderson and Oklahoma State's Pat Smith in the exclusive club. Stieber, who is 88-3 for his career, could be next on that list. But, first things first.
"You win in New York City against the No. 1 guy in the world wrestling against Russia and that says something," Ohio State head coach Tom Ryan said. "Beating [Jordan] Oliver as a freshman was kind of an indication of the composure this guys has. He just understands how to get things done at this level.
"He's been dominating in this tournament. That loss [to Retherford] I called 'the perfect storm' because it only made him work harder."
Among the best pound-for-pound wrestlers in the country, Stieber is used to the hype and the chatter that comes along with it.
"I hear it all," Stieber said. "The loss [to Retherford] was not good. But I think it helped me; I never want to lose, but it helped me get to where I am now."
The road to where he is now includes: four Ohio state high school titles, the Dave Schultz Excellence Award, a Junior Hodge Trophy, Cadet freestyle and Greco national titles, a Junior National freestyle title, a silver medal at the World Junior Championships.
On Thursday, the Stieber wrestled 2:48 before pinning Lavion Mayes of Missouri, then worked his magic in a 17-1 technical fall versus Oklahoma State's Anthony Collica.
Friday morning required 1:29 to dispatch of Harvard's Todd Preston. The other half of the bracket includes Virginia Tech's Devin Carter and North Carolina's Evan Henderson, who beat top-seeded Mitchell Port of Edinboro in the quarterfinals.
"It's nice to get quick matches because this is a long three days," Stieber said. "You get a chance to rest your body and get ready for two more matches."
When the lights come on Friday night, expect Stieber to be ready.