Feb. 14, 2014
A two-time NCAA qualifier, who reached the Round of 12 as a true freshman, senior/junior Steve Dutton transferred from Lehigh prior to the 2012-13 season, but missed the next year and a half with injury. He joined the Wolverine lineup at 141 pounds a week into the Big Ten dual season and reeled off three straight major decisions before running into two of the nation's top-three wrestlers in back-to-back matches. He bounced back with a pair of solid wins in U-M's latest road trip, including a comeback decision against Iowa's ninth-ranked Josh Dziewa. The Wolverines have gone 5-2 since Dutton joined the lineup with wins over four nationally-ranked opponents.
As Michigan prepares for its final dual of the 2013-14 season, Steve took some time after practice to talk about his return to wrestling, contributing to the team success and the Wolverines' progression since December.
Q: You won a pair of good matches last weekend. Do feel like that was your best weekend yet?
A: It was good. I felt like I beat a couple of good kids and really made another step toward where I want to be going. It's a really short season for me this year. I've had a lot of time off. So, I'm just really focused on improving every weekend.
Q: Do you feel like you've been able to do that over the last four weeks?
A: That Ohio State/Penn State weekend was obviously a little tough. But I feel like every weekend since I've been back, I have made some strides -- besides that little dip -- and last weekend was another great step in the right direction. I feel better just getting back to competing every weekend. You always have more confidence when you're in better shape. With missing so much time, it's taken me a little to readjust. Competition shape is different than just wrestling in the room. I'm building that confidence to be able to push harder in matches.
Q: With the dual season winding down, do you anticipate any change in your approach for the upcoming postseason tournaments? You haven't had a chance to compete in a tournament yet this year.
A: We've got about three weeks after our last dual to prepare for Big Tens. I'll plan to train really hard for the first two weeks or so then start tapering off. I want to focus on taking one match at a time. That's how I have to approach it. I haven't had the two matches -- or three or four -- in one day yet this year, so I really need to emphasize one match at a time and go from there. I think the preparation is the same; you just need to do it for more matches.
Q: After transferring in prior to last season, you're finally now representing Michigan. How does it feel to really add something to this lineup that's having some good dual-meet success?
A: It's kind of a relief almost. I didn't know if I'd be coming back this year. It's really nice to just finally compete, wrestle and do what I came here to do -- and really contribute to a team that's building something.
Q: We've really seemed to take off in the second semester. Have you noticed a change in the practice room? Do things feel a little different now?
A: Even though we've had a few dips here and there and instances of some guys not wrestling the way they want to wrestle -- myself included -- I think everything is clicking and going the right direction. Everyone has bought into laying it all out on the line every day in the practice room and trusting the coaches completely. I noticed back in early December, before I even joined the lineup, that there was a sudden click among the whole team. We've really kept it going ever since then. We also have a lot of guys that just don't like to lose. That's an important attitude to have.
• Past Spotlight: Conor Youtsey