After three undefeated seasons and three Maryland state championships, Kyle Snyder turned heads around the country when he elected to skip his senior season at Our Lady of Good Counsel High School to spend a year at the US Olympic Training Center. After a year of training with the best wrestlers that the United States has to offer and numerous international tournament victories, Snyder signed to wrestle for Coach Tom Ryan and the Buckeyes.
We caught up with Snyder to discuss his year in Colorado Springs, the feeding frenzy of a recruiting process, and what tipped the balance in favor of the Buckeyes.
You opted to skip your senior season to train at the US Olympic Training Center. Did someone approach you about that? How did you even know that was an option?
Kyle Snyder: Actually one of my coaches at Good Counsel talked to the National Developmental coach Bill Zadick and brought up the idea to him. My coach knew I was always looking for ways to improve and to find better partners. After Brandon Slay and Coach Zadick saw me compete at FILA Juniors and at Fargo, they talked to my family about it. My high school coaches and everybody thought it was the best solution for my wrestling career.
When you picked up and moved across the country, what did you find was the toughest part about being out on your own for the first time?
KS: Honestly, everything was pretty smooth. I missed my family a lot, which was by far the hardest part. It made me realize that it’s tough when you don’t have your family there at a moment’s notice when you need them. You have to do your own laundry, take care of yourself when you’re sick, all of that stuff, really. It was all worth it, though, because the training was so good and I know that it was best for my wrestling career. I got to meet some really great people and travel around the world, so it was a great experience.
Was it a tough decision to forgo your chance at a fourth state title, or did that not even factor in to your decision?
KS: No, it wasn’t that tough. The toughest part about it was that my little brother was going to the same high school as me and we would have been teammates. That would have been cool, but I didn’t even really think about winning my fourth state title. Winning four state high school titles in Maryland is tough, don’t get me wrong, but it’s a little bit different than going to the Training Center and working with those guys every day.
Was there anyone in Colorado that was your toughest opponent?
KS: I got to wrestle everybody out there. I got to wrestle Jake Varner, the Olympic champ in my weight class. I wrestled JD Bergman, who is actually from here in Ohio. I wrestled Dustin Kilgore (an NCAA champion for Kent State) a ton. I probably couldn’t put a “toughest match” on one person in particular because they each presented different challenges, but I definitely learned a lot from wrestling all of them.
If you had to look at yourself a year ago versus now, where do you think you improved the most?
KS: I worked a lot on moving my hands and my feet at the same time. Coach Zadick is really focused on technique, and he really worked me hard in that area. I’ve always been pretty good at getting in on someone’s leg, but while I was out there, I got a lot better at getting to the leg and immediately finishing. I know that in college, guys hips can be really heavy, so I’m going to have to finish quickly.
Intermat had you ranked as their top recruit in your graduating class coming out of high school. Aside from Ohio State, who were some of the other schools that showed interest in you?
KS: There were probably five or six schools that I was considering. I was looking at West Point, Maryland, Virginia Tech, Penn State, Oklahoma State, and Ohio State.
“I love the coaches here. They’re all really great guys and I like what they’re all about.”
What do you think it was that made you ultimately choose Ohio State?
KS: I love the coaches here. They’re all really great guys and I like what they’re all about. The training center here, the Ohio RTC (Regional Training Center, which trains wrestlers who aspire for international accolades) has a bunch of Olympic-level training partners with that program. Also, the teammates that I’m going to have for the next four or five years are going to be great guys and I know they’re all going to push me to get better.
The Olympics are going to be in Rio in 2016. Have you given any thought to taking an Olympic redshirt?
KS: I’m not really sure. I’ll have to talk to the coaches about it. My goal is to make the Olympic team and win a gold medal. I’m not sure what it will take to train like that and if I’ll be able to wrestle in the college season. I’m going to look into that when the time comes. I do care about the team, and I want us to be really successful. I’ll be ready to do whatever it takes to help my team succeed.
Coach Ryan is not afraid to redshirt high profile wrestlers with guys like Bo Jordan, Nathan Tomasello, and Hunter Stieber all redshirting last season. Is that something you’ve talked about or are you going to step in right away?
KS: I’m stepping into the lineup right away.
You’ve wrestled all over the world in addition to wrestling all over the US. How would you say the atmosphere is when wrestling in front of large crowds overseas?
KS: People overseas truly care about wrestling. That’s not to say that we don’t here, but we have different sports like football and baseball and basketball. Overseas, they’re really passionate about how their athletes do and how they compete. It’s fun to compete in other countries and if you’re wrestling a really good guy, it gets really loud. It’s similar to how the crowds are here in the US, but you can really tell that all of the people really know what’s going on and really get into every match.
Thinking about you being a student-athlete, what are you planning on majoring in at Ohio State?
KS: Either sports industry or communications.
So much has been made of you being an outstanding wrestler. If I were going to say “Kyle Snyder is the worst on the wrestling team at ________________” what’s the one thing off the mat that you’re the worst at?
KS: I’m not that good at dancing. I’d have to say dancing, actually. My body just doesn’t work the way I think it’s supposed to when I’m dancing. I’d probably say that I’m the worst on the team at dancing, for sure.