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Riding time cost Hunter Stieber a chance at national crown

Hunter Stieber is on pace to be a four-time All-American wrestler at Ohio State
Mark Hazelwood
Mar 25, 2013

Hunter Stieber is on pace to be a four-time All-American wrestler at Ohio State after a third-place finish Saturday at the NCAA championships in Des Moines.   

Given the circumstances, Buckeyes head coach Tom Ryan said people can forget that too easily.   

"The dilemma, but reality, is that you have someone in your own house that's on track to do what few have ever done in the history of this sport," Ryan said. "So Hunter is amazingly special in his own right, and it's important to realize that."   

After Hunter (36-1) took third at 141, elder brother Logan (27-0) won his second straight national championship at 133 pounds.

With two years of eligibility left, Logan is still in position to become just the fourth four-time champion in NCAA history.   

With the chance for the brothers to become just the second set of siblings to win titles in the same year gone, it took some adjusting not only for Hunter, but for Logan as well.   

“I was pretty upset,” Logan Stieber said. “I think if I would have lost in the semifinals, I would have been the most heartbroken I’ve ever been too.   

“Him losing, it was really tough on me, but I was also very proud of the way he came back to get third and how he did it.”   

Hunter, a 2011 Monroeville graduate, said Logan (2010) continues to be a big influence on him.   

“Just tremendous, and not even on the mat,” Hunter said. “Off the mat he's made me so much better. About a month ago, we figured out how to cut weight the right way.   

“Logan has been an animal since he learned how to cut weight the right way. I'm still figuring it out, but I'll improve and follow what he does.”   

A rule that most have drawn lines in the sand on one way or the other, riding time, essentially cost Hunter Stieber the chance to wrestle for the national title minutes after his brother Logan.   

After letting a 6-2 lead slip away in a semifinal match Friday, the score against Edinboro's Mitchell Port was tied at 6-6 in the final minute.

However, Port had earned over a minute's worth of riding time, which is when the wrestler who controlled his opponent on the mat for the most time is awarded a point; provided that the difference of the two wrestlers' time advantage is at least one minute.   

With 20 seconds left in a final neutral reset, Hunter Stieber chose to shoot for a takedown, instead of taking the bottom position and trying to earn an escape that would have at least forced overtime since Port already had the extra point.   

Or, he could have attempted to ride out Port to try to bring his riding time under a minute.   

“He made a tactful mistake,” Ryan said. “It was more about tactics than it was his skill or ability. His thinking was, I have to take him down anyway to win. So there's 1:09 of riding time, I have to take him down anyway.   

“His opponent though, he knew with the riding time he didn't have to take him down. It allowed him to go into a more defensive mode, which changes the complexion of opportunities on your feet. It's a learning opportunity that unfortunately came at a high price for Hunter.”   

Riding time doesn't exist in high school wrestling in Ohio, and had there been 10 seconds less of it in Hunter's match, he may have wrestled for the title Saturday.   

The “match made in heaven” to end Saturday's championship between Cornell's Kyle Dake and Penn State's David Taylor involved one wrestler going for four titles in four weight classes (Dake) vs. the defending champ of that class (Taylor).   

But in the end, the dream match that ESPN shifted around to broadcast last ended up being tied at 4-4 ... but Dake had over a minute of riding time to get the win, 5-4.   

“I like riding time and like it way more than high school wrestling,” Hunter said. “I lost because of it, but it doesn't mean that I hate it. I had to get a takedown to win, I didn't want to get overtime.   

“It was my decision, I could have dropped down to his leg and gotten nine seconds, but I made a game-time decision to cut him. I knew if I took him down I'd get nine more seconds, so I wanted the takedown for the win. That's how I am.”   

Ryan is also still a big proponent of riding time.   

“I love it, I think its special about this sport,” he said. “Hopefully that never changes. I know that some coaches feel that it's not fun and boring, but holding someone down is toughness and an art. It is not easy to do.”   

As for the future, the success of the Stiebers, if healthy, will again be unlimited, but it may be at different weight classes.   

“There has been a lot of discussion if Logan is going to bump up or not, and he's probably going to,” Hunter said. “He could probably stay at 133 if he wanted to, but I don't think he really cares.    “He wants to lift and get bigger. He's the best wrestler in college, so it's his call. Whatever happens, happens. I can go up to 149 easy, we'll be good.”