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Six-minute mat chat with NHSCA National Champion Caden Steffen

By Chad Otterness, 04/07/17, 11:00AM CDT


Caden Steffen of Zumbrota Mazeppa High School


  • Minnesota State High School League Champion at 182 lbs
  • NHSCA  National Wrestling Champion at 182 lbs
  • USAW Folkstyle Nationals all American at 182 lbs

Caden has had a busy spring so far.  After winning a Minnesota High School State Wrestling Championship at 182 LBS, Caden traveled to Virginia to compete in the National High School Coaches Association Wrestling Championships.  Caden went 6-0 in the tournament to claim the national title in the 11th grade division.  Caden also entered the USAW Folkstyle National Wrestling Championships in Cedar Falls, Iowa and came away with a 6th place finish.

Q:  How are you feeling about winning a MN state team title, individual title and now a National Wrestling Championship?  Any difficult matches that standout from the national tournament in Virginia?

The team title meant the most to me due to team overcoming adversity, injuries to some teammates, and just working through a demanding season.  The team came through at the end and peaked at the right time.  The state title was really awesome, I did my thing and wrestled to dominate my opponents.  I feel good about having won the title and look forward to winning a 2nd title.  The national title was a really cool atmosphere, with teammates having a good time.  My most difficult match:  The quarter final match was with Justin Johnson from Oklahoma.  He was short and stocky.  He was difficult to score on and he defended shots well.  I was able to win that match in OT.

Q:  What type of training did you put in between the state and the national tournament.  What did you do to stay in good shape and wrestling shape?   

I stayed on the mat and kept wrestling.  I spent some time wrestling Bailee O'Reilly from Goodhue, Patrick Kennedy from Kasson, and Daniel Kerkvliet from Simley.  This really helped me to be ready for a national level tournament.

Q:  Your ability to scramble and transition from one position to another has improved quite a bit, what do you attribute that development to?  

A spent a lot on the mat, calling up guys to wrestle with and keep learning, muscle memory.  Constant drilling and wrestling has been a key to my improvement and development as a wrestler.

Q:  What is it like to have your father as a coach considering he was a state champion and college national champion wrestler?   Most people tell me that they would not like it.  It could be to demanding.  I love it because he knows what his is doing, he builds relationships with kids, he has good personalities and other coaches in the room.  My dad had a lot of success.  I want to keep working, so I can do as well as my father. 

Q:  Moving forward, do you plan to be wrestling freestyle and Greco-Roman?  If so, do you have any personal goals you would like to achieve this spring and/or this summer at any state/regional or national level tournaments?  

Yes, I plan to keep wrestling freestyle and Greco-Roman this spring and into the summer.  I plan to participate in the regional national tournament this spring in Rochester and this summer in the national freestyle and Greco-Roman Tournament in Fargo, North Dakota.

One of my goals is to take each tournament, prepare for it, work to win it, then move on to the next one

 Q:  Do you have any goals for your senior year of high school with respect to wrestling, classroom expectations, other athletic endeavors.

 My goals are to work towards being a state champ again and win a state team title.  My school has been very supportive and has embraced the team's success.  

In the classroom, I plan to shoot for a 3.0 GPA or higher.  I will be spending time in the weight room with my teammates.  The team has bought into the weight room opportunity and understands the success strength training can provide.    On our team's success:  This years team 2016-2017 and next years, I believe most of the kids put in the time to wrestle.  The team has bought into working together.  The nucleus of our team is back for the 2017-18 season.

Our football team has moved to 3A we are looking forward to a good season.   We will be playing against some very good teams in Southeast Minnesota.