IOWA CITY, Iowa - Kyle Snyder added another chapter to his storybook rise to the top of the wrestling world on Sunday night. And this time, there was a familiar ending.
Snyder defeated 2012 Olympic gold medalist Jake Varner in a winner-take-all match at 97kg at the Olympic Trials and officially punched his ticket to the 2016 Summer Games in Rio. In a best of three final, Snyder lost the first match but quickly rebounded and outscored Varner 10-1 over the next two bouts, including 6-1 in the deciding third match.
Snyder made history in 2015 by winning a World Championship as a 19-year-old, the youngest American to ever accomplish that feat. He beat Varner in the 2015 U.S. Trials finals and U.S. Open finals.
The deciding third bout was all Snyder, who dropped the first match 4-4 on criteria but won back-to-back matches with better attacks from the neutral position. The second match was a 4-0 decision with the clincher a 6-1 conquest.
— U.S. Olympic Team (@TeamUSA) April 11, 2016
In the final match, Snyder jumped out to a 3-0 lead after the first period, extended it to 5-0 early in the second and never looked back.
"It was pretty nerve-wracking," admitted Snyder, who in the last eight months has won a World championship, Big Ten championship and NCAA championship. "I had all intentions of winning the first match and winning two in a row. But that is why the sport of wrestling is great because you never know what is going to happen. You never know if you are going to win or lose, all you can do is just prepare.
"I was definitely nervous. (Varner) put a lot of pressure on me. Thankfully Coach (Lou) Rosselli lost his first match in the 1996 Trials and came back so he had some good things to say to me after the first match tonight. It kind of calmed me down a little bit."
"It's pretty hard to describe," Snyder said of the last eight months. "It started off making it to the NCAA finals as a true freshman then losing that. After that I kind of fell into a lot of success, not really fall into it but through a lot of hard work and self-belief. I really haven't had a chance to look back on it yet, honestly."
With Snyder's win, two members of the Ohio Regional Training Center are Rio bound - Snyder and Tervel Dlagnev, who will represent the United States at 125kg.
Other Buckeyes who competed on Sunday included 2015 NCAA champion and two-time Big Ten champion Nathan Tomasello, who won a 4-3 first round match against 2016 NCAA champ Nico Megaludis. It was the third time Tomasello and Megaludis have faced each other in the last month and a half, and Tomasello has won all four bouts by a combined five points. Overall, Tomasello went 2-2 in his first Olympic Trials.
Bergman finished fourth overall at 97kg, defeating Cayle Byers in the second round, 7-2, before falling to Dustin Kilgore in the challenge bracket semifinals. He rebounded to take out Scott Schuller, 9-6, in the consolations and lost to Micah Burak in the third place match.