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Fennimore star wrestler commits to Division 1 Pittsburgh
Fennimore senior Tristan Steldt committed to wrestle for Division 1 University of Pittsburgh in 2025–26. Steldt is a three-time WIAA state qualifier, two-time individual state championships and has helped the Golden Eagles win three-straight WIAA D3 Team Wrestling state titles.

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

By Jason Nihles, The Platteville Journal, Fennimore Times, Boscobel Dial

Tristan Steldt, Sr., Fennimore wrestling
FENNIMORE – Fennimore’s Tristan Steldt made a major decision about his future when he committed to attend and wrestle for Division 1 University of Pittsburgh next year on a partial scholarship. 

Steldt has compiled a 102–14 record during his first three seasons at Fennimore and qualified for the WIAA Individual State Tournament each year, winning WIAA Division 3 state titles at 160-pounds as a sophomore and 157 this past year as a junior.

The ultra-talented Steldt recorded his 100th career varsity win with a dominating 16–4 major decision over No. 3 seed Micah Kuchta in the D3 157-title bout.

Steldt went on to score a 26–11 technical fall and a first-period pin a week later to help the Golden Eagles win a third-straight WIAA D3 Team State title.

“After much thought and consideration, I have decided to continue my athletic and academic career at the University of Pittsburgh,” state wrote in a statement announcing his decision. “I have been fortunate to meet many great people throughout the recruitment process, and I feel Pitt is the best place for me.

“First and foremost, I would like to thank everybody who made this possible; To my family, coaches, and support system, this wouldn’t have been possible without you. Your effort and time towards me and my teammates is unparalleled. Advancing my potential at the Division 1 level has been a dream of mine since I was a kid. Now that dream is a reality. (It’s) time to make some noice at the next level.”

Steldt finished his sophomore season with a 42–4 record after winning the D3 160-pound title. He missed most of his freshman season recovering from a torn ACL suffered during eighth grade spring football, but returned late in the year to go 17–6 and finish third at state in Division 3 at 138 pounds.

Steldt has strong profile wrestling on the national stage as well, including winning the U16 Cadet Greco-Roman national championship at 160 pounds at the 2022 US Marine Corps USA Wrestling National Championships.

“My Brooke wife and I really loved Pitt and felt this was the place, but we never told Tristan that,” said father Chad Steldt, who also coached Tristan at FHS the last three years. “You could tell the coaches really wanted him. And academically they blew our socks off.

“As a coach, I have had several wrestlers get scholarships, but as a dad we feel there is a lot of upside for Tristan once he gets to college. The scholarship wasn’t the only goal. But its nice bonus with the ability to maximize his potential in a sport he loves, and hopefully more doors open as he goes forward as professional in the business world. That’s what we are more excited as a parents.

“Brooke would say she is happy for her son, and the fact that we are handing our son over to a first class coaching class relieves a lot less stress about Tristan’s future.”

At Pitt, Steldt will wrestler for head coach Keith Gavin, a former NCAA D1 national champion at Pitt in 2008 before returning to his alma mater as head coach in 2017. 

Gavin trained during his own wrestling career with two-time D1 national champion Ben Askren, from Hartland, who was a two-time national champion at Missouri.

“Askren has been Tristan’s personal coach at AWA (Askren Wrestling Academy) the past three years,” explained Steldt. “So that was one connection to Pitt.”

The Steldt family visited Pittsburgh in the spring right after Fennimore won the Team State title.  The younger Steldt also took official visits to North Dakota and Bucknell (Pa.) and had an unofficial visit at Wisconsin. 

He also drew interest from Division 1 programs Lehigh (Pa.), Pennsylvania, Army and Navy before ultimately choosing the Panthers.