Sizzling Six: Zumbrota-Mazeppa's Caden Steffen
Zumbrota-Mazeppa junior Caden Steffen is the No. 1-ranked 182-pounder Class A wrestler in Minnesota. Steffen was the state runner-up last season as a sophomore at 182. He's off to a strong start, and Steffen is looking for both an individual title and a team state title; Z-M is ranked No. 5 in Class A. Steffen and the Cougars will see some stiff competition this weekend at the Minnesota Christmas Tournament, which is Friday and Saturday at UCR Regional Sports Center. Today Steffen is on the hot seat with the Sizzling Six.
1. Is there anybody you're looking forward to wrestling this weekend in Rochester?
STEFFEN: I'm mostly just looking forward to the tough competition. But I wrestled Trey Rogers of Hastings (ranked No. 1 in Class AAA at 182) at the Bloomington Kennedy Duals, and we had a great match. He beat me 3-2. It was a fun match. I hope we see each other again.
2. A little birdie told me you wrestled with Kasson-Mantorville's Patrick Kennedy often in the offseason. How were those battles?
STEFFEN: Patrick is a very physical, aggressive wrestler. He gets on you. Kasson is a dominant program, and I like taking things away from a program like that. It's good to see how they do things outside of Zumbrota. It taught me a lot. I really liked wrestling with him. I think he got the best of me when we went live most of the time, but we had a lot of good scrambles. I loved doing it.
3. Z-M has more guys wrestling in the offseason than ever before. What fueled that?
STEFFEN: The group of juniors we have, they're all on the same page. I haven't seen that in a while. This team really wants to do well, and we want to meet our goals. It's the first year I remember where our top athletes, wrestling is their main sport. The entire room is all about winning a team state title. We've been there before, losing to Minneota. We want to make sure we prepared if we earn that opportunity again.
4. Who's the most-improved guy in the room?
STEFFEN: Probably Luke Tupper. He came along mentally more than anything. This year, I wouldn't want to wrestle him. I couldn't say that last year. But he's really developing into a good wrestler.
5. Your dad (head coach Link Steffen) always gets the most out of his wrestlers. How?
STEFFEN: He develops relationships with kids. He doesn't single kids out or pick favorites. He treats everyone the same, whether you're a state champion or you've never won a match before. And he treats you how you deserve to be treated. If you're not working hard, he's going to kick you in the butt. But he'll still take you out fishing later. I love having him as a coach.
6. With the talent on this roster and the hard work going into it, has the Class A state title been the goal since Day 1?
STEFFEN: For sure, that's the main goal. We aren't looking past anyone, though. I think two years ago we were so focused on winning the section, I don't think the thought of winning a state title was even there. If we find ourselves in that situation again and we can get back to state, we'll be prepared this time.