Wrestling: Determined Steffen secures state title
ST. PAUL – Caden Steffen walked onto the Class 1A 182-pound championship match determined. It was his match. His mat. Nothing was going to stop the Zumbrota-Mazeppa junior.
“To be 100 percent honest, my biggest fear was to finish second two years in a row. I didn't want that to happen,” said Caden, referring to his 25-12 major decision loss to Jackson County Central's Keegan Moore in 2016. “I worked all summer, all off-season to make sure that didn't happen. I just went out there and I wrestled my match. I controlled it and I just did everything the same, didn't change a thing.”
Like he did all tournament, Caden dominated.
Scoring three pins and a major decision over the span of four state matches, Caden became the Cougars' first state champion since Tyler Lindhart in 2008 after pinning Pierz's Brett Kapsner in 1 minute, 34 seconds.
“From the beginning of the year to the end of this year, he's a better wrestler at the end,” said Z-M head coach Link Steffen, Caden's father. “He's a kid that stays after practice every day and works hard. He does two workouts a day. He's just a phenomenal kid who loves wrestling and that's why he got better.”
Both the No. 1-ranked and top-seeded wrestler in the bracket, Caden put down New London-Spicer's Josh Soine with a pin in 3:30 in the semifinals for his second straight finals. On the other side of the mat was Kapsner, who was the second seed and the third-ranked wrestler at 170.
And, Kapsner was a wrestler that one of Caden's teammates had first-hand experience with. During the Class 1A team finals Thursday, Kapsner wrestled Z-M's Hayden Voxland, with Voxland securing a 5-4 decision. It provided a scouting report for Caden two days later.
“I talked to Hayden and he said he had a slide-by and Hayden said he had a lot better gas tank than him,” Caden said. “I just took that to my advantage. He's a tough wrestler. I've talked to him before and he's a great kid and a respectful guy.”
After a year in the making, Saturday was Caden's day. And in one fell swoop, he sealed his first state title with a quick take-down, half-nelson and a first-period pin.
“Caden was able to break through after a minute and 15 seconds. He went out of bounds on a take-down that Caden almost had and that created an opening and gave Caden a little confidence,” Link said. “Then in mid-air, he did his double-leg. He was able to put down the half-nelson on the guy and got the pin. He stuck the landing.”
Caden rounded out the 2016-17 season with a 46-4 record.