But he was reminded quite rudely when he arrived in Cleveland on Wednesday night what home feels like in mid-March.
“Man, it’s cold outside,” said Stieber, a 2011 Monroeville graduate. “I forgot about how cold the winds come off of Lake Erie. I wasn’t ready.”
A four-time state champion at Monroeville and a two-time All-American at Ohio State, Stieber is still getting used to a new title these days. He’s in town for the NCAA wrestling championships at Quicken Loans Arena — about an hour from home — as an assistant coach with the University of Oklahoma.
Stieber is wrapping up his second full season with the Sooners. Head coach Lou Rosselli brought him to Norman, Okla. after the two connected at Ohio State.
Another Ohio native and former Buckeye All-American, Nick Heflin (Massillon), also went west with Rosselli and Stieber.
Rosselli was an assistant coach for the Buckeyes for 10 seasons, and was a key figure in the career of both Hunter, and Logan Stieber — Hunter’s older brother and one of four wrestlers to win four individual NCAA titles.
But even after a couple seasons, the word “coach” still takes Hunter by surprise.
“It’s a little weird when I hear Coach Stieber from my guys,” he said. “But it really catches me off guard when my old teammates from Ohio State call me coach.
“I kind of pause for a second — and we normally smile at each other,” he added. “It’s been different, but fun at the same time.”
And though he’s adapting and enjoying the coaching aspect of wrestling — Hunter isn’t quite done with the sport yet.
In November, he reached the semifinal round at the 20th annual Dave Schultz Memorial International — held at the Olympic Training Center in Colorado Springs.
There were 28 wrestlers from the U.S. and a total of seven countries in attendance for the men’s freestyle portion, including Russia, Japan, Kazakhstan, Korea, Kyrgyzstan and Mongolia.
Hunter, a former gold medalist at the Pan American championships in Mexico City in July 2014, finished fourth in the event at 70kg (154 pounds).
“I’m just glad I’m healthy,” Hunter said. “I do plan on competing for a little bit longer; I just enjoy wrestling and traveling to the events.”
Hunter Stieber is one of the best area and Ohio wrestlers of all-time.
After finishing with a 193-2 record at Monroeville with four state titles, he followed Logan to Ohio State and compiled a 68-17 record. He was a two-time All-American (third, sixth place) at the NCAAs before injuries ravaged the last two years of his career in Columbus.
All told, the Stiebers combined for a 564-23 record with eight state titles, four NCAA titles and six All-American placements at both Monroeville and OSU.
And while Ohio State is again contending for the NCAA team title this weekend, Hunter doesn’t have mixed emotions. The Buckeyes took their entire 10-man lineup to Cleveland this weekend, while the Sooners had five wrestlers and advanced one beyond Thursday.
“I still love the Buckeyes and it’s awesome seeing what they have become,” Hunter said. “Oklahoma is great, the school supports everything we are doing to improve the program.
“Our goal is to win every single weight class, but come in and work your hardest and improve,” he added. “A lot of guys are buying in and improving, and it’s rewarding to see them working so hard.”