A 22-year-old Good Counsel graduate who has won two straight NCAA titles at 285 after being a runner-up as a 197-pound freshman, Snyder’s loss to the 21-year-old Coon was his first collegiately since the NCAA finals of that freshman season.
Snyder, of Woodbine, 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.
“The first time I wrestled [Coon,] I wasn’t really excited because I knew how big he was, and I was like, ‘Man, this is really gonna stink,” said Snyder, who was among four champions on Sunday for the Buckeyes (164.5 points), who overcame the runner-up Penn State Nittany Lions (148).
“But then, of course, when you lose, it’s real competition. Round Two went to me, and then, I’m predicting Round Three will be in two weeks, and we’ll see what happens there.”
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, and are defending national champions who will take aim at their third straight NCAA tournament crown and seventh in the past eight years under coach Cael Sanderson over the course of March 15-17 in Cleveland, Ohio at Quicken Loans Arena.
“I’ll probably never have to wrestle anybody like Coon in my entire career after NCAA’s in two weeks,” said Snyder, a two-time World Champion and an Olympic gold medalist at 213 pounds. “It’s just figuring out the challenge, what you have to do to execute against him, because he’s a little bit different than everybody else.”
Snyder is 12-1 so far, finished at 17-0 last year and had a 40-bout unbeaten streak heading into the 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.