Stieber, a 2010 Monroeville graduate, won in close and blowout fashion in the best-of-three championships at 65kg (143 pounds) over Joey McKenna At times, the two have been training partners Ohio State University and the Ohio Regional Training Center in Columbus.
A non-Olympic year until 2020, Stieber will represent the United States at the World championships beginning Oct. 20 in Budapest, Hungary at 65kg, — one of the 10 weight classes.
The first bout was back-and-forth, though it didn’t look like it was going to be at first. Stieber got a big four-point move, leading at the break, 6-3. In the second period, McKenna took a lead, but with eight seconds left in the match, McKenna forced a stepout to tie it at 8-8 — but Stieber won by having the highest scoring move.
The 2015 OSU grad was in control in the second bout, opening the scoring with a four-point move. In the second period, Stieber scored a go-behind takedown and added an ankle lace turn to finish it off with an 8-0 victory.
“I feel really good making this World Team,” Stieber told USA Wrestling. “I’ve had an up and down year, but I always believed in myself so this feels really good about it right now. I had a good focus for the last month or so and I put in two really good weeks leading up to this event, so I feel really good about it.”
Stieber won four NCAA titles for Ohio State and has now made his third Senior World team. McKenna is a two-time NCAA All-American who transferred to Ohio State this year.
McKenna and Stieber never crossed paths collegiately, as McKenna started his carer at Stanford University, then sat out a year prior to his freshman season as a redshirt in 2014-15 — the year Stieber finished his star-studded Buckeye career.
Stieber, also the Dan Hodge Trophy winner in 2015 who went 119-3 at OSU, earned the World team spot a year ago when the championships were held in Paris. He did not place.
Prior to that, he was a Junior World silver medalist in Bucharest, Romania after his true freshman season at Ohio State in the summer of 2011.
After missing out on the 2016 U.S. Olympic team in Brazil in August 2016, Stieber earned medals at high-profile tournaments in Ukraine, as well as the UWW Golden Grand Prix.
In December 2016, he competed at the non-Olympic weight (61kg) senior Worlds and won a gold medal — also held in Budapest. En route to gold, he beat a former World Bronze (2015) medalist and a former 2012 Junior World champion.
In the year-plus since, Stieber, a 2015 Ohio State graduate, won the Grand Prix of Spain prior to the World team appearance last summer.
Back up from 61kg to 65kg, Stieber was upset at the U.S. Open in Las Vegas in April by Jaydin Eierman in the quarterfinals. A win would have automatically put him in Saturday’s championship best-of-three, but he instead at to compete for a spot last month, where he avenged the loss to Eierman and set up the All-Ohio State match on Saturday.
Meanwhile, McKenna won his first international medal (silver) at the 2014 Junior Worlds in Poland. While still at Stanford, he was an All-American as a freshman in 2016 — but did not make the podium in 2017.
But this past season, with the NCAA championships in Cleveland, McKenna bounced back with a run at the individual title at 141 pounds for OSU, ultimately losing a controversial 1-0 setback in the semifinals to Wyoming’s Bryce Meredith — then placed third overall at the weight.
McKenna reached Saturday’s best-of-three by winning the U.S. Open with a 7-3 win over Eierman, after the latter had upset Stieber.
The head-to-head match guaranteed two wrestlers from Ohio State on the World team, as World and Olympic champion Kyle Snyder had already earned his place on the team.