Most athletes put in the work required of them during practice.
Others raise the bar, finding additional time to hone their skills to take them to the top tier of their sport.
Joseph senior Steven Beckman falls into the latter category. His work beyond the practice room played a large role in him becoming a three-time state champion and two-time high school all-American wrestler.
He’ll be counting on that same work ethic to propel him at the next level, as he signed Thursday to continue his wrestling career at Treasure Valley Community College.
“A lot of kids will go to practice and work their butt off there,” he said. “I’m not afraid to put in extra time,” noting he found success in putting the additional hours in.
Beckman said during wrestling season he would typically work out in the morning, during his lunch break at school and after practice. He did additional cardio and weight work to go along with the practice sessions.
“It didn’t matter when it was, I was working,” he said.
Currently, he works out twice a day as he prepares for the college level.
His work ethic was really shaped after a freshman year that he said “didn’t turn out the way it should have. I didn’t feel practice was enough.”
That’s not to say he wasn’t coached well, as he said Joseph Head Coach Tim Kiesecker “taught me more than most coaches. (But) where I was at was not close enough to where I wanted to be.”
The results since that freshman campaign speak for themselves.
He joined rarefied air in winning three consecutive 2A/1A state championships for Joseph, taking the 106-pound title as a sophomore and junior and winning the 113-pound bracket as a senior.
And he didn’t just win at state. He dominated. Seven of his nine state tournament matches during that three-year span he won via pinfall.
He’s also excelled at the national level, winning second place in freestyle wrestling and third in folkstyle during the USA National Tournament last summer to reach all-American status.
That tournament, in fact, revealed an aspect of the sport he wants to develop in college. While Beckman listed quickness, strength and confidence among his assets moving to the next level, he noticed when wrestling at nationals a year ago that upper-echelon wrestlers were better at defending their opponent’s shot, or takedown attempt.
“My shots worked pretty well in high school, but last year when I went to the national tournament it was different,” he said.
Beckman was considering several other options, including Eastern Oregon, Corban and a handful of East Coast schools. Part of the decision to go with TVCC was the flexibility he’ll have for his summer job.
“I’m going to be fighting fire this summer and didn’t want to go to a college that required me to come back in the summer,” he said, noting that TVCC training doesn’t start until October.
He also said spending time at TVCC, which will wrestle in events that feature a wide range of athletes — including Division II and Division III — will enable him to get a taste of college wrestling and see how he stacks up before deciding on a four-year school.
And anyone concerned about his size at college — given he wrestled mainly at 106 and 113 and the lowest weight class at college is 125 — can rest assured. He said he’s already bulked up to around 140 pounds.
“I’m going to have to cut weight, which is something I wouldn’t (have) expected,” he said.
Beckman takes pride in being from a small school and finding ample success in a sport that’s been a part of his life since age 4 or 5, when he started wrestling in a club run by his uncle Matt McDowell, a two-time national champion for Southern Oregon.
“You’re from a little school, but that won’t stop you from achieving anything. You can compete with anyone,” Beckman said.
He’s taken that mindset, too, when people downplay his success because he was wrestling against athletes from small schools.
“It’s not looked upon as much as a (larger school),” he said, adding he intended to use the slight as fuel. “We put in the same work everyone else does. We’re at practice every day. We go the same tournaments. There might be (fewer competitors), but they’re just as good of wrestlers. In the long run, it doesn’t come down to the school — it comes down to the kid.”