He proved that on Saturday night, utilizing four takedowns to most a 10-1 major decision in the NCAA 141-pound championship match vs. Virginia Tech's Devin Carter. With the win, the junior became the first-ever three-time NCAA champion in Ohio State wrestling history.
The Monroeville, Ohio, native lost just once this year, and he earned revenge for that loss to Penn State freshman Zain Retherford in the Big Ten title match and then in the NCAA semifinals.
In the final, the second-seeded Stieber had little trouble with the fourth-seeded Carter, posting a takedown in the first minute and riding for the rest of the period. He chose bottom to start the second and escaped quickly, then notched another quick takedown on the way to the rout.
"He has an amazing gift of making the right decision at the right moment every single time," Ryan said. "You envision what is possible, and then to see it come to fruition, it's happening, and the fact that all of his principles in his life are so strong, it's magic happening. It's nice to see something you know can happen, happen, because it doesn't always work that way."
At 197 pounds, fifth-year senior Nick Heflin finished just short of his goal, as the top-seeded Buckeye fell in the NCAA final by a 2-1 score to Missouri's J'Den Cox thanks to a third-period stalling call.
"He's a three-time All-American," Ryan said. "There's been less than 10 at Ohio State of those. I think with Nick, the loss is traumatic. There are more painful things that can occur in life, but as a champion, you go through the training and you don't really consider -- your mind doesn't allow you to go to the place of defeat, so when it happens, it's hard."
As a team, Ohio State finished sixth in the nation despite redshirting a number of talented grapplers in an effort to be ready to make a run at next year's title.
"Are you ever truly satisfied? No, but I'm really proud of this group," Ryan said. "There's a lot of young guys that went through some ups and downs during the year, and to finish sixth and to have two in the finals and a champ, it's a good step forward for this program."