The Ohio State wrestling team is apparently not satisfied with a single NCAA Championship as Tom Ryan is pulling out all of the stops for a run at a repeat title this coming March, including lifting Kyle Snyder's olympic redshirt for this season. Snyder, fresh off a World Championship, will enroll in classes for the spring semester and compete for the Buckeyes this year.
Snyder committed to Ohio State three years ago as the top prep prospect in the country. As a true freshman in 2014, he finished 30-4 with a team-high 15 major decisions on the way to finishing as the Big Ten and NCAA runner-up.
In September, he became the youngest freestyle World champion in U.S. wrestling history.
He will return for Ohio State's Feb. 5 dual meet at No. 1 Penn State, traveling to compete in a pair of international competitions prior to that.
We spoke with Kyle to discuss the decision and get a better understanding of how he will fit into the Buckeye lineup.
Initially, you decided to take an Olympic redshirt year and now it looks like you're going to end that redshirt year and step back into the lineup for the Buckeyes. Who came up with the idea for you to forgo your redshirt and what were some of the steps that you had to take to get back on the mat for Ohio State?
Kyle Snyder: Coach Ryan was the mastermind behind all of this. He's a pretty innovative thinker and he wants Ohio State to have the best possible lineup. About two weeks ago, he brought the idea to me about coming back and wrestling for the second semester for the Buckeyes. He already did the background work and looked into everything so we had the facts. He talked to academic advisors and the athletic department. Once he brought it up, I talked to some of the coaches at USA Wrestling and we decided that it was possible and was also the best thing for me and achieving my goals.
It wasn't like you were just sitting on the couch at home, but rather you were already allowed to practice with Ohio State's team. Since you were on an Olympic redshirt, were you just practicing with the team or were you still going to class as usual?
KS: When you take an Olympic redshirt, you don't have to take any credit hours. It's basically like a year off from school to focus on the Olympics. I am enrolled back in classes at Ohio State and I'm taking 13 credit hours this semester. Like you said, I was here every single day practicing with the team and the only difference was that I wasn't travelling with them or obviously competing.
Your international weight is a little higher (97 kg or 213.4 lbs) than your weight of 197 last year. Are you going to drop down to 197 or will you be at heavyweight?
KS: I'll be wrestling this year at heavyweight. It's too big of a cut for me to get back down to 197 and I feel very comfortable wrestling at heavyweight. Ohio State currently has two great heavyweights and I've been training a lot with those guys. Nick Tavanello and Thomas Haines are great partners for me, and we have, I also believe, one of the best heavyweights in the world in Tervel Dlagnev (who wrestles for the Ohio Regional Training Center in Columbus). I'm confident that I'll be able to handle the weight class and I'm excited to wrestle with some different guys.
What was the feeling in the room when it was announced you'd be back in the lineup?
KS: It really impacts the guys I mentioned earlier because I plan on coming back at heavyweight. Nick Tavanello and Thomas Haines handled it with class and they want what's best for the team. Those guys are great leaders, great teammates, and great friends. I really appreciate how they handled it. The other guys on the team are excited for it. It's pretty awesome that Myles (Martin) is out of his redshirt, too. He was pretty set on redshirting, but Bo dropped to 165 and Myles is going to go 174 for us.
“Everybody was fired up about this year before it started, but now this just adds to that feeling. We're feeling really good about the future.”
Looking ahead for you at the NCAA level, NC State's Nick Gwiazdowski is the guy to beat at heavyweight. He's already got two NCAA titles, a ridiculous winning streak, and he just won the Midlands. Is he someone you've ever crossed paths with?
KS: I've wrestled Nick a bunch of times. I know the way he wrestles. We've trained together and have wrestled in a couple of practice matches. We're good friends and it should be a pretty good match if we meet up down the road.
Before I let you go, do you have a timeline for when you'll be back in the lineup?
KS: I'm expecting to weigh in for the Penn State dual (Feb. 5). I'm not 100% sure if I'll wrestle that dual or not, but I'll definitely wrestle in the Big Tens and NCAAs. The Penn State dual and the Wisconsin home dual are both things that I'm keeping an eye on.
If you don't mind me asking, what's causing the delay? Illinois is on Sunday and there are big duals with Michigan and Nebraska before the Penn State match. What's the reason to push it back?
KS: I'm going to be travelling overseas to wrestle in two freestyle competitions [the Ivan Yarygin Memorial Grand Prix Jan. 29-31 and the Alexander Medved International Feb. 18-19]. One is in January and one is in February, so I won't actually be here for those dual meets.
In addition to Snyder and Myles Martin, two-time All-American Hunter Stieber is likely to return to the Buckeye starting lineup after surgery on both elbows. Stieber will take one last crack at the Big Ten and NCAA field, likely starting against Michigan on January 9.