Ohio State’s Kevin Snyder had just fallen short of an 8-1 decision to Maryland’s 285-pound junior Youssif Hemida, whose triumph prevented his Terps from being shutout in last Friday’s 45-3 Big Ten Conference loss to the Buckeyes at the University of Maryland’s Xfinity Center College Park.
Snyder’s setback came against a wrestler who, a year earlier, was dominated by older brother Kyle Snyder, a world-renowned senior who has twice won world championships, an Olympic gold medal and two straight NCAA titles after being a runner-up as a freshman.
But neither those accomplishments nor the loss were of consequence to Kevin Snyder in the immediate aftermath. All that mattered to the redshirt freshman were the several surrounding navel- and chest-high boys who encircled him for selfies and autographs.
“I didn’t know so many kids knew who I was, and that was pretty cool to find out. The Youth Club that was here, Warriors Wrestling – that’s who we started wrestling with when we were really young. I love being back in Maryland and seeing the younger kids,” said Kevin Snyder, who slipped to 13-7 in defeat.
“There are a lot of great places in the world, but I think because I have so much family here, this is my favorite place to be. It was nice to be home with so much family in the stands tonight and hearing people yelling my name while I was wrestling.”
That’s because the Snyders, who are from Woodbine, have been instrumental in elevating their sport locally, nationally and internationally, guiding Good Counsel to private school state titles in 2013 and 2016. Kevin joined Kyle at Ohio State last year, red-shirting at 197 pounds before serving in a reserve role this season behind his sibling.
“It’s a learning year. I’m not the starter, Kyle is,” said Kevin Snyder, whose parents, Steve and Tricia, were in the stands on Friday night. “We’re not really thinking of ourselves as ambassadors, but if people look at us as role models and good ambassadors for the sport, then that’s awesome and it’s a great position to be in.”
Steve Snyder said Kyle missed the Maryland match for being in Colorado Springs, Colo., at a National Team 10-day camp. Kyle Snyder did arrive in Newark, N.J., on a Saturday night flight from Colorado for Sunday’s match at No. 17 Rutgers University, where his fall contributed to a 29-11 Big Ten Conference victory.
The Buckeyes (8-0, 3-0) are ranked No. 2 in the country behind Penn State, the defending national champion and winner of six of the last seven NCAA titles. Nine of the 10 Buckeyes who faced Rutgers were ranked in the top 11 in the country for a squad that outscored eight dual opponents by a 290-to-50.
The Buckeyes also boast McDonogh School graduate Myles Martin (184), a junior two-time All-American and winner of an NCAA title as a freshman who joined the Buckeyes a year after Kyle.
In early February 2017 at their alma mater, Good Counsel, it was Kyle who led the Buckeyes to a 30-12 rout of the Terps, scoring a 22-7 technical fall over Hemida before a sold-out crowd. Kevin was a 197-pound freshman watching from the bench.
“I give [Buckeyes’ coach] Tom Ryan all of the credit in the world for bringing that match to Good Counsel. Kyle loved being able to bring that Ohio State crew in here. They’ve been around some amazing coaches and mentors through the years,” said Steve Snyder.
“They just try to compete and train as hard as they can. The way they carry themselves is a reflection of all of that. Are they ambassadors? If fans and other coaches and athletes look at it that way in Kyle and Kevin, then that’s great.”
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, Kyle spent his high school senior season training at the Olympic Training Center in Colorado Springs, later finishing as a redshirt freshman NCAA runner-up in March 2015.
Kyle had reached the title bout with a 3-2 semifinal upset of then-defending champion J’Den Cox of Missouri, and in September 2015, a 19-year-old Kyle Snyder became the youngest American to win a freestyle World Championship at 213 pounds.
Kyle 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.
Snyder’s triumph over Medberry was far less dramatic than his sophomore year’s over North Carolina’s two-time defending champion Nick Gwiazdowski, who was 33-0 with an 88-match winning streak and outweighed Snyder by 30 pounds. Snyder won, 7-5, on a takedown with 25 seconds left.
At the Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro in August 2016, a 20-year-old Kyle Snyder became the youngest wrestling medalist in history, overcoming 213-pound two-time bronze medalist Khetag Goziumov of Azerbaijan, 2-1.
In the August 2017 World Championship in Paris, Kyle 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 at 97 kilograms (213.8 pounds), earning his second straight crown and lifting the United States over Russia.
Snyder had earlier won the February 2017 World Cup freestyle championship in Kermanshah, Iran, at 97 kilograms (213.85 pounds), earning a 6-0 victory over Amir Mohammadi.
The Iranian trip nearly didn’t happen due to acrimony between the United States and Iran over President Donald J. Trump’s controversial executive order concerning immigrant and refugee travel and, more specifically, pertaining to treks from seven predominantly Muslim countries, including Iran.
In retaliation, the Iranian government initially announced the U.S. team would not receive visas. But a federal judge suspended Trump’s order, after which the nation granted the Americans visas to Snyder’s delight.
“I am happy and relieved that USA wrestling is going to have an opportunity to compete against the best countries in the world in Iran. We believe we have a very strong team this year,” Snyder told The Sentinel a few days prior to making the trip.
“We are hoping to represent the United States to the best of our abilities. In my career, I have only had positive interaction with Iranian competitions and coaches. They have always been respectful and kind. I am excited to compete in front of one of the biggest wrestling crowds in the world.”
Snyder’s classy presentation is “all him,” said his mother.
“Kyle continues to set the example because he loves the sport,” said Tricia Snyder. “It’s not something that he has to practice. It comes naturally because that’s just who he is and what he does. Kyle enjoys the practices, and the matches and the camaraderie.”
Kevin has done his best to follow in Kyle’s footsteps, earning a private schools state title, a fifth place finish at National Preps and helping the Falcons to win their second private schools state title during a tremendous 2015-16 season.
Down 5-1 against Hemida, Kevin appeared to close to within 5-3 with a second period takedown that was overturned after Maryland coach Kerry McCoy successfully challenged the official’s call to the chagrin of Buckeyes’ counterpart Tom Ryan.
“I thought I got a takedown, but it is what it is and that’s not how the match played out. It took away a little momentum and some of the pressure off of him, giving him a bigger gap in the scoring. But that’s just wrestling. I felt like if I tried real hard that I could be in the match, giving myself a chance to win,” said Kevin.
“I just want to get better every match. I felt like I did that tonight. I was offensive, but some of the shots I took I probably shouldn’t have taken, but that’s all technical stuff and I felt like my effort level was pretty high. I’m not mad about anything that happened. If I wrestled him again I think I could change some stuff. Kyle helps me so much, so there’s not a lot of pressure on me. We’ll talk about my match right after this because Kyle’s the man."
Hemida sees promise in Kevin Snyder, if not similarities to his more famous brother.
“It’s a different person at the end of the day because Kyle’s the best wrestler in the world, but they both shoot low singles and do a really good job with the over-tie and the snap-down,” said Hemida, who is 17-1.
“Once Kyle graduates, Kevin will be someone who is difficult to deal with. Kevin’s tough and shoots a lot and did it more tonight than probably any heavyweight all season. He kept attacking and I have respect for him for keeping me on my toes. He’s gonna be good.”
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