MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — On Thursday, nine wrestlers from the University of Minnesota will compete for national championships. Among them is Gable Steveson.

The Olympic gold medalist and All-American will try to capture a second national title.

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“It’s weird that I got to a spot that like kids are looking me up and kids are like coming to see me and wait in line to see me,” Steveson said. “As an athlete, like you wait for that time. But when you get to that time, like, it seems weird.”

While chasing back-to-back NCAA championships, Steveson also grapples with fame. But that’s what he’s always worked toward.

“We got the beginning of the match, where you can tell I’m serious but I’m out there trying to enjoy myself. And then as the mask goes on you can tell like a character builds, like you can see like if I take you down right away I’m gonna give the crowd a look and they’re gonna cheer,” he said. “And then I’m like refreshed, and then I’m gonna let you up. So it’s like step after step after step. It’s cool, it’s like, it’s just like my thought process and how I go about matches.”

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He says he never expected his college career to go by so quick.

“Me and my dad was talking before the season, like us coming back and how it was gonna be, and I mean, I feel like last week I was wrestling my first match against Oklahoma State at home, and now like we’re at the end, like literally the end,” he said. “It’s not senior night no more, it’s not Big Ten, it’s the last five matches that I’ll probably, maybe ever touch, who knows. But for now, we’re just gonna, we’ll let that day come, and then we’ll re-circle back and I’ll tell you after that.”

He’ll step into the professional ranks with his ultimate goal in mind.

“My goal is I want to be like The Rock, you know. Like The Rock is like the man,” Steveson said. “Everybody knows The Rock. Everybody wants to see his movie, everybody wants to see him in person, everybody wants to see him back in the WWE ring.”

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Steveson will also try to be the first wrestler in college history to finish a season with a 100% bonus rate, which is when a wrestler wins by more than seven points.

Norman Seawright III