Gable earned the Gorrarian Award as a junior and senior for the most pins in the least time in the NCAA Tournament. In 1969, he pinned five opponents in a total of 20 minutes, 59 seconds. The next year, he pinned five opponents in 22:08.
But in the 1970 NCAA 142-pound final, it would be a different story when Gable met Washington sophomore Larry Owings, normally a 150-pounder who pared weight to compete in Gable's class. Gable rallied from a 7-2 deficit to tie the match 8-8 in the third period before Owings re-established control and pulled off a 13-11 shocker.
The defeat left Gable in tears. "At first, I couldn't face my parents," he said. "I felt I had let them down. Two weeks later I won the national AAUs, was voted the Outstanding Wrestler there and that got me back on the right road.
"I needed to get beat because it not just helped me win the Olympics, but it helped me dominate the Olympics. But more than that, it helped me be a better coach. I would have a hundred times rather not have that happened, but I used it."