NEW YORK, N.Y. -- The Buckeyes have arrived in the Big Apple. Less than 24 hours before they officially begin defending their NCAA title, Ohio State had the opportunity on Wednesday to practice at The Theater at Madison Square Garden and meet with members of the media.
The day started with a workout inside The Theater and continued with a 2 p.m. student-athlete press conference that included Kyle Snyder along with four other participants -- North Carolina State's Nick Gwiazdowski, Cornell's Nahshon Garrett, Oklahoma State's Alex Dieringer and Penn State's Zain Retherford.
Snyder on wrestling at the NCAA Championships: I'm very excited to compete here. I've never wrestled at Madison Square Garden, so it's going to be exciting to go out there and compete. Anytime you can wrestle in front of thousands of fans it's very exciting and something I'm looking forward to.
On if wrestling in international competitions helps him for NCAAs: Well, I've just been wrestling a lot. So I think that's going to help prepare me for the competition that I'm going to have here. I haven't really wrestled too much folkstyle. I've been training mostly freestyle still since I came back. But I think wrestling the type of opponents that I've been able to compete against this year, some of the best guys in the world at my weight class, some guys that have wrestled heavyweight before and done well is going to help me compete well at this tournament. And just focusing on the same things I've been focusing on, improvement, trying to open up more and wrestle freely.
On if wrestling freestyle helps folkstyle and vice versa: I haven't wrestled -- I've wrestled six matches in folk but in practice I only practice freestyle with the guys pretty much. So I think just wrestling is wrestling, I'm going to learn and get better in positions whether it's freestyle or folkstyle and top/bottom is something -- I've never really been that great on top. Like I've never had a pin before, I think. So I'm not really good on top. But bottom's always been something that I'm pretty naturally good at. So I haven't worked on that too much. But I think, like I said, earlier going overseas I've learned a lot against the competition I've wrestled against, and I think it's made me a better wrestler.
On what it's like being a World champion at Ohio State: Well, the first semester I was planning on taking an Olympic redshirt. So I actually didn't have any classes. So I didn't really go on campus much. My apartment's like 50 yards from the wrestling room. So I really just walked back and forth from the wrestling room multiple times every day and really wasn't on campus that much to see everybody. But the second semester was fun, coming out and telling everybody I was going to wrestle again. And that part was fun but then having to take classes wasn't as much fun. And I know it's something that you have to do. And I try my best to do well in school. But the wrestling is my favorite part.
On being recognized on campus as a World champion: Some of the people on the campus know I am a world champion. That's pretty cool to walk into a football game or just walking around campus and people will ask for pictures and stuff like that. But most of the time I can just walk around and people don't know who I am, which is fine, too.
On if freestyle lends itself more to his style and to what he attributes his jump from last year: I would say it's a little bit of both. I do like freestyle more. I like wrestling freestyle more. So that might be reason -- my style probably suits it a little bit better. I think that might be a reason why I have more success in freestyle. But I also feel like I grew as a wrestler a lot after the NCAAs and even during the season I was growing as a wrestler but you take a few losses. And that's kind of just the way it goes.
But after the season kind of just talked to some of the people I trust the most and reevaluated the way I think about the sport. I think I was able to wrestle more freely, wrestle open in the competition where you saw that I had success. And with that I was able to learn more and become a better wrestler.
On moving up to heavyweight this year: 197 wasn't too hard of a cut when I wrestled in it last year. I had it under control. And even before the season I was dieting to make sure that I could make the weight easily by NCAAs. But I like wrestling at -- I would say 213 is probably pretty much the perfect weight class for me. And then heavyweight isn't too bad most of the time. Coon was really big, so he was hard to wrestle. My forearms got tired when I was wrestling him, holding on to his leg, stuff like that. But I wrestled good heavyweights in the room. Like I say often, Tervel Dlagnev, and our heavyweight, Nick Tavanello, they're both tough guys. And I get used to wrestling the heavy weights with them in the room. But yeah, 285 is a good weight class for me.
On last year's NCAA experience: It was hard. It was kind of a mix of emotions because we won the team title last year. Some of my best friends won NCAA titles. You don't want to be jealous for them. You want to be happy for them. But just as an individual, you want the same thing. So it was kind of hard for me to be around them, even though I am super happy that we got it done as a team and I'm super happy for the individuals who got it done now. It was hard to be with them in that moment because I was hurting pretty bad. But the rest of the night really wasn't that fun. Coach Ryan made me come up and speak so all the Buckeye fans who came to our meeting get-together, that really wasn't that fun for me to do, but I had to do it.
And I would say I learned a decent amount from that match. I wouldn't say it catapulted me to what I did during the summer. But I definitely -- I learned a lot. It made me reevaluate the way I think about the sport. It made me assess my wrestling more and I got better in that under hold position, too, so I'm not going to get thrown that way hopefully anytime soon.
Following Snyder's press conference, head coach Tom Ryan took to the podium along with Penn State's Cael Sanderson, Iowa's Tom Brands, NC State's Pat Popolizio and Oklahoma State's John Smith.
On NCAA Championships at Madison Square Garden: Looking forward to competing in Madison Square Garden. Obviously I grew up 35 minutes from here. So it was quite often my brother and I would train in and work out at the New York Athletic Club on Tuesday nights. It's a special place. As a young person also got to see the Globetrotters compete here as a kid. And I got to see Neil Diamond sing here. So actually had some of my Iowa boys with me back in college, we caught that concert. It was spectacular. Won't be as good as the wrestling this weekend. Looking forward. Kyle, obviously from the East Coast, and Kenny Court's not too far away. It's a special place to be and we're looking forward to it.
On his son, Jake Ryan, drawing [Oklahoma State head coach] John Smith's son in the opening round: The brackets came out and Logan Stieber said to me, wow, your son and Smith's son are going to wrestle. You realize there are six world titles and two Olympic gold medals between the family? (Laughter) So Logan is always good for sly remarks. Obviously their name is synonymous with wrestling. We know the Smiths, their passion for the sport. So we're excited that Jake has the opportunity to compete with Joe. Looking forward to it.
On being on the wrestling championships committee: I can tell you the people that are on the committee are great people. They take what they do incredibly seriously. It was -- I think it ended up being 28 hours in meetings really over a two-day period. I think the process is a good one. I think the people on the committee care about making it better. So overall it was a great experience for me to be involved at this level. You want to make a difference. You want to make a difference in the sport. And by being on committees you have a chance to.