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Fennimore 8th grader places 2nd at prestigious Super 32 wrestling tournament in Myrtle Beach
Fennimore eighth-grader Tristan Steldt (right) placed second at 145 pounds in the 7–8th grade division of the Super 32 Challenge, a premier national wrestling tournament in Myrtle Beach, S.C., October 24–25.

EDITOR'S NOTE: The Athlete of the Week is a web-only feature that will publish each Thursday throughout the calendar year.

Tristan Steldt, Fennimore wrestling

MYRTLE BEACH, S.C. — Fennimore 8th grader Tristan Steldt proved to be in an elite class, placing second out of 19 competitors in the 7th–8th grade 145-pound division at the prestigious Super 32 Challenge in Myrtle Beach, S.C. Oct. 24–25.

Steldt qualified to register early for the tournament because of his past placement at Tulsa Nationals. Registration for non-early entries filled up in six minutes for the limited middle school divisions.

Fennimore senior Brody Lee competed in the 125-man, 145-pound high school bracket.

“The Super 32s has become the premier middle and high School tournament in America, and even with COVID this year was not different,” said Fennimore High School wrestling coach (and Tristan’s father) Chad Steldt. “It was nice to see strict protocols being followed.

Fennimore senior Brody Lee also competed in the Super 32 tournament and was accompanied by his father John Lee. Tristan and his mother Brooke headed traveled to Myrtle Beach Friday, Oct. 23, and his father Chad followed on Saturday.

“The Super 32s personnel did a great job with COVID protocol,” said coach Steldt. “There were several spread out areas of entry and temperatures were taken every time you entered or left. They had security in place to enforce mask wearing, social distance, and family limits. You could only be in the arena, Myrtle Beach Sports Complex, if your son or daughter was wrestling. The complex was about 2 footballs in length, and then they had several separate rooms (ballrooms) where you could go when not wrestling. 

“I was very pleased to see the reduction in the fans due to COVID. People were very spread out, which felt weird, but it was nice as well. Also, the organizers ran the national competition in shifts. For Brody’s first day they spread 9–12th graders out among 24 mats. On Day two they separated middle school and high school.”

“The vibe was very good and positive,” added Steldt. “The wrestling community has always been very sensitive to hygiene, so the COVID pandemic, even though it presents new challenges, really just highlights the importance of what we have always done. We constantly use wipes, santizeres, and religiously wash clothing and surfaces. 

“As for the face mask, the fans and wrestlers had to wear them 24-7. The only time the wrestlers were able to not wear one was during their match.” 

The middle school brackets at the Super 32 Challenge were limited due to COVID, and wrestlers had to qualify, via resume to earn a spot in the tournament. 

The tournament was packed with the top kids in the nation. 

Steldt’s bracket had 19 kids including the reigning national champion, several triple belt placewinners — making them nationally ranked — and several state champions in his bracket. 

“Tristan was on,” said Steldt. “He is starting to really become a better athlete both mentally and physically. He was eager to wrestle #1-ranked Dreshaun Ross from Iowa, but Ross was upset in the quarterfinals by a very advanced Pennsylvania kid.” 

Steldt opened the tournament Saturday morning with a 9–0 victory over Vristol Short of Smiley, Minn. As Fennimore fans know, Smiley is one of the top-ranked programs in America.

In roud two, Steldt defeated Landon Jobber-Spence, an extremely tall kid from Culpeper, Va., 4–2 in overtime.

After giving up the first takedown, Steldt came back to tie it up in the third period.  The match went into overtime where Steldt did a great job faking his single to snap his opponent to the mat. He used his quickness to scoot the corner and score the sudden victory takedown.” 

Steldt advance to face Cole Stangle of Branchburg, NJ in the semifinals.

“The last match was tough because of the height of the kid, but we knew the semifinals were going to be even tougher because of the kid’s athletic and technical abilities,” said coach Steldt. “Tristan knew we had to have a game plan going into the match.” 

Stangle took Tristan down within 10 seconds. 

“A little dumbfounded, Tristan found himself about a minute in,” said coach Steldt. “I think he was just a little taking back at first. The rest of the match was physical with several scrambles.” 

Steldt trailed in the second period 2–0 with 15 seconds remaining. After going out of bounds, Steldt knew he needed a period ending takedown to set up the third period. With seconds remaining he hit his crash double and scored to tied the match at 2–2. Steldt intentionally release Stangle for an escape early in the third to trail 3–2.

Once again, after several missed attempts, it came down to the last 10 seconds. Tristan once again went to his elbow pass-by to a crash double and scored to win 4–3. 

The victory put the younger Steldt in the championship against Pennsylvania’s Charlie Scanlan, who upset #1-ranked Dreshaun Ross 10–2 in the quarterfinals. Steldt wrestled hard but Scanlan scored a 9–1 decision. 

“The finals were good, but the Pennsylvania kid was a step ahead of Tristan,” said coach Steldt. “It was a good match until the third when Tristan tried some high risk moves that cost him.”

“To put this tournament in perspective, there has only been one Wisconsin kid to ever win it,” said Coach Steldt. “There have only been two Iowa kids that ever won it. Locally, Haakon Peterson and Reid Spurley wrestled. Peterson is in 8th grade and took fourth. Spurley went 2–2 and is projected to start for Mineral Point this year. Southwest Wisconsin has some studs coming up through the ranks. I hope they stick around.”

“It was great to be back on the mat, responsibly,” Steldt added. “The youth need it. They need sports. We also need to be smart. There are ways to work within this pandemic, but we have to be smart. Super 32’s organizers did a great job, and their model should be followed by others hoping to run wrestling tournaments. 

“We were proud of how our kids competed. They win and lose on their terms. They are constantly attacking and having fun. In my mind, they wrestle how wrestlers should compete. It was fun to watch.”

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