As wrestling matches go, Bobby Steveson would much rather earn a hard-fought victory than win without working up a sweat.
"I like hard matches better than easy ones," the Merrillville sophomore said. "Instead of walking out and pinning someone, I'd rather have them push back."
In the midst of a spring and summer of stiff competition, the freshman 160-pound state medalist has proven his mettle. Steveson went 6-1 at the scholastic duals as a member of Team Indiana. In April, he placed second in the Cadet 160-pound division at the USA Folkstyle Nationals in Cedar Falls, Iowa. Most recently, he took third in the Cadet 170s at the USA Freestyle and Greco Nationals in Fargo, N.D.
"It shows how hard I've been working, where I am against other kids in the U.S.," Steveson said. "There are lot more tough matches than high school."
Along the way, Steveson has registered wins over state champions from Minnesota, Colorado and Wisconsin, in addition to numerous other place winners. Even so, a semifinal loss in Fargo to Chandler Rogers of Washington left Steveson wanting more.
"It's not what I worked for," he said of the third-place finish. "He just stopped my shots. Everybody else, I was able get to my shots pretty easy. I got them with my technique and speed. Now I just need to get bigger and stronger so I can overpower guys. That's not my strength."
The busy slate continues for Steveson, who still has several more tournaments on his docket, including the Super 32 in North Carolina in November. He wrestles for the Nomad Elite Wrestling Club, which is operated by his dad Robert, a protege of former E.C. Central coach Bill Kelly.
"He's had a heck of an off-season," Robert Steveson said of his son. "I just ask him to work hard. I expect 100 percent effort."