Ohio State senior Kyle Snyder’s takedown with 24 seconds left secured his third straight NCAA crown with a 3-2 decision over 285-pound Adam Coon of Michigan last Saturday at Quicken Loans Arena in Cleveland, Ohio.
A 22-year-old Good Counsel graduate who is considered by some to be the world’s greatest all-time amateur wrestler, Snyder, won in dramatic fashion for the second time over a two-week span against Coon, who has a record of 29-2 and was the only man to defeat Snyder this season.
Snyder, of Woodbine, reached the finals on a technical fall, a major decision and a pair of decisions to improve to 17-1 on the year, having now won two straight NCAA titles at 285 after being a runner-up as a 197-pound freshman, his 3-1 loss to the 21-year-old Coon on Feb. 11 being his first collegiately since the NCAA finals of that freshman season.
Snyder, whose parents are Steve and Tricia, is a two-time World Champion and an Olympic gold medalist at 213 pounds who became the first American wrestler ever to return to college after winning his Olympic gold in Rio de Janeiro in 2016.
“I’ve been blessed, and I’ve got a lot of natural gifts that I’m thankful for. It’s been a lot of hard work and a lot of consistency,” said Snyder, during a video interview on trackwrestling.com.
“There’s been a lot of support from my family for taking me to the best clubs when I was younger and always placing me in positions where I could grow as a wrestler because that’s what I said I wanted to do from the beginning.”
Ohio State (133.5 points) was a runner-up to the Penn State (141.5) for the second straight year as the Nittany Lions earned their third straight NCAA tournament crown and seventh in the past eight years under coach Cael Sanderson. The Nittany Lions (14-0, 9-0) won the dual meet conference showdown, 19-18 over the Buckeyes (14-1, 8-1) on Feb. 3 at Penn State.
“It was an amazing race,” said Snyder, whose Buckeyes defeated runner-up Penn State for the Big Ten tournament crown two weeks ago. “It would have been awesome to leave Ohio State with a team title. I still believe that we have an amazing team.”
Saturday’s bout resembled that from two weeks ago won by Snyder, 4-2 on an overtime takedown that secured his third straight Big Ten crown and paced his Buckeyes to the overall title at Michigan State’s Breslin Center in East Lansing, Michigan.
The 5-foot-11 Snyder (224 pounds) yet again overcame a 59-pound weight disadvantage against the 6-foot-5 Coon (283), a senior who won their match during an 18-15 dual meet triumph for Snyder’s Buckeyes.
After a scoreless first period, Snyder escaped for a 1-0 second-period lead that lasted into the third, where he allowed a bout-tying escape by Coon. Snyder executed his match-winning move by countering an attempt by Coon, who escaped for the one-point margin only to be held at bay over the final 16 seconds of the match.
“I was surprised that he shot at that point. I wasn’t expecting that…He took a shot while I had my under-hook in, kind of extending himself a little bit,” said Snyder.
“I was able to throw him by and there wasn’t much time left after that…The match was a lot of me holding him off, trying to pick and choose my shots, timing them strategically throughout the match and trying to set a couple of things up.”
Snyder edged Coon 3-1 in the Big Ten finals of 2015-16, a year that ended with Coon being a third-place finisher at the NCAA tournament.
Coon was an NCAA runner-up as a sophomore, falling 7-6 to repeat champion Nick Gwiazdowski of N.C. State, whom Snyder would dethrone 7-5 the following season on a takedown with 25 seconds left.“
Coon is real big and real strong,” said Snyder. “He’s a very good wrestler who has had a great career and he’s a really good guy. He’s got a really bright future in a lot of different fields, whatever he chooses.”
Snyder finished at 17-0 last year and had a 40-bout unbeaten streak heading into this year’s loss to Coon. He had not tasted defeat in the Buckeyes uniform since being pinned in the NCAA finals by fifth-year senior Kyven Gadson of Iowa State after leading 1-0.
Snyder had reached the title bout with a 3-2 semifinal upset of then-defending champion J’Den Cox of Missouri, an effort that helped the Buckeyes to win their first overall NCAA crown.
Snyder’s younger brother Kevin joined him at Ohio State last year, redshirting at 197 pounds before serving in a reserve role this season behind his sibling.
The Snyders guided Good Counsel to private school state titles in 2013 and 2016. Kevin earned a private schools state title, a fifth-place finish at National Preps and helped the Falcons to win their second private schools state title during a tremendous 2015-16 season.
As a Good Counsel junior in 2013, Kyle won his third straight private schools states and National Preps Tournament crowns during an undefeated (179-0) high school career, one that culminated with the Falcons winning the program’s first-ever private schools state championship.
After twice earning Wrestler of the Year honors, Snyder spent his high school senior season training at the Olympic Training Center in Colorado Springs, Colorado, later finishing as a redshirt freshman NCAA runner-up in March 2015.
As a Buckeyes sophomore, Snyder dethroned Gwiazdowski, who was 33-0 with an 88-match winning streak and outweighed Snyder by 30 pounds.
Snyder’s 285-pound NCAA championship junior season required his overcoming a rib injury and an opponent who outweighed him by 38 pounds, resulting in a 6-3 victory over Wisconsin’s Connor Medberry. It was Snyder’s second win over Medberry, who entered their clash at 29-1 after losing 8-5 to Snyder earlier that season.
In September 2015, a 19-year-old Kyle Snyder became the youngest American to win a freestyle World Championship at 213 pounds.
At the Olympic Games in August 2016, Snyder overcame 213-pound two-time bronze medalist Khetag Goziumov of Azerbaijan 2-1, and at the February 2017 World Cup freestyle championship in Kermanshah, Iran, earned a 6-0 victory over Amir Mohammadi.
In the August 2017 World Championship in Paris, Snyder scored a spin-behind takedown with just over 20 seconds remaining in a come-from-behind, 6-5 victory over Russia’s Abdulrashid Sadulaev, earning his second straight crown and lifting the United States over Russia.
“The Russian Tank” Sadulaev was a defending champion at a lower division who had not lost in four years before bumping up a weight class to challenge Snyder.
In January’s Ivan Yarygin Grand Prix, in Krasnoyarsk, Russia, the 213-pound Snyder overcame a 1-0 deficit for a 4-1 decision over the host country’s Rasul Magomedov, becoming the first American man to earn a second gold medal in an event touted as the world’s most difficult open tournament, according to the USA Wrestling website.
A winner of last year’s final against Magomedov, whom he pinned in 5:02 of their initial bout, Snyder was named the tournament’s Best Foreign Wrestler.
With his collegiate career coming to an end, Snyder will concentrate solely on his international exploits at 213 pounds.
“I’m really happy to just continue my international career at 213, where I feel really comfortable competing at,” said Snyder. “There’s not much strategy involved at that weight, just going out and trying to score as many points as I can. I like freestyle a lot more. It suits the way that I wrestle, putting a lot of pressure on people.”