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NEW YORK, N.Y. - Two champions. A third-place overall team finish. The final night of the NCAA Championships was marked by a pair of dramatic wins for the Buckeyes' Kyle Snyder and Myles Martin, who cemented their place in program history before a sell-out crowd at Madison Square Garden and national TV audience on ESPN.
Snyder (11-0) and Martin (33-6) won the 20th and 21st individual titles in program history and join a list of 13 other Buckeyes who stood at the top of the podium. As a team, Ohio State's third place finish is its ninth top-10 showing in the past 10 years and fifth time in the top five (fourth time in the top three). Additionally, Snyder was named the championships' Most Outstanding Wrestler, the second consecutive Buckeye to take home that honor (Logan Stieber, 2015).
Martin put an exclamation point on what was an unforgettable true freshman campaign with an 11-9 victory over top-seed Bo Nickal of Penn State. The first true freshman national champion in program history, Martin trailed 4-3 in the second period before a wild six-point sequence put him ahead and a crowd of over 17,000 at Madison Square Garden into a frenzy.
Martin took down Nickal near the edge of the mat and then turned him on his back, racking up four near-fall points to go ahead 9-4. That was the score as the third period started, and an escape gave Martin a 10-4 advantage. Nickal tried to play catch-up the rest of the period, but it was to no avail. Martin is the first No. 11 seed to win a title since 1979.
"I figured I would go out there and wrestle and compete as hard as I can," said Martin. "I've been doing it at practice. I did it all during the year. If I just stick to what I do best, and just have fun, that's the main thing about it, have fun and just wrestling position, and I competed and I was able to win."
It was a fitting end to the season for Martin, who spent the first two months as a redshirt competing at open tournaments. He had faced Nickal three times previously, most recently in the Big Ten semifinals in which Nickal won by pin. Martin is also just the 15th true freshmen to win a national title in the 86 year history of the NCAA Championships.
"I'm just happy the way I competed throughout the whole tournament," said Martin. "The coaches were so happy I got All-American, but I wasn't really thinking about it. I was thinking about the next match, keep competing, competing hard."
In the most highly-anticipated bout of the championships, Snyder and NC State's Nick Gwiazdowski didn't disappoint. After a scoreless first period, Gwiazdowski grabbed a 3-0 lead thanks to an escape and takedown. Snyder quickly countered with a escape and the escaped again to start the third period.
Midway through the period, Gwiazdowski took Snyder down to build a 5-3 lead, but the World champion finally finished off a shot on Gwiazdowski's legs with 11 seconds to go in regulation to send the bout into sudden victory. Quickly into the extra session, Snyder attacked again and took Gwiazdowski down for the winning points, which was upheld by video review. It snapped Gwiazdowski's 88-match winning streak, the longest in the nation.
"It was a fun match," said Snyder. "I think it will go down as one of the most exciting heavyweight matches in NCAA history. And obviously I'm happy that the end result was to get my hand raised. But I think I improved as a wrestler throughout the match, too, and that was fun.
"I felt good in overtime. I knew that the momentum was running towards my way. I've been in that situation before where I needed to score. And I kind of had that low single off of the overtime in my head. It's something that's been working for me this whole season. And then in overtime, I knew it was just getting stingy and gritty with my takedown. When I get to a leg I have to finish, can't get in any funny business. I was able to get my hips under me and score that takedown."
OHIO STATE WRESTLING
2016 NCAA Championships | Session VI
Madison Square Garden | New York, N.Y. | Attendance: 19,270
TEAM STANDINGS (Top 10)
1. Penn State - 123.0
2. Oklahoma State - 97.5
3. Ohio State - 86.0
4. Virginia Tech - 82.0
5. Iowa - 81.0
6. Missouri - 74.5
7. Cornell - 67.0
8. Nebraska - 58.0
9. Illinois - 50.5
9. Michigan - 50.5
174: No. 11 Myles Martin (33-6)
Championship Final: Martin decision over No. 1 Bo Nickal (Penn State) 11-9
285: No. 2 Kyle Snyder (11-0)
Championship Final: Snyder decision over No. 1 Nick Gwiazdowski (NC State) 7-5 (SV-1)