Photo: Tony Rotundo, Wrestlers are Warriors
COLUMBUS, Ohio -- Fresh off a victory last weekend at the Olympic Trials in Iowa City, Kyle Snyder added another major award to his trophy case on Thursday when USA Wrestling named him the 2015 John Smith Award winner as the Freestyle Wrestler of the Year. It is the first time that Snyder has won this prestigious award.
Snyder won a gold medal at 97 kg/213 lbs. at the 2015 World Wrestling Championships in Las Vegas, Nev. in September, becoming the youngest American to win a World title at the age of 19.
Snyder opened with a 2-1 win over past World medalist Pablo Oliinyk of Ukraine. He followed with dominant wins over Radoslaw Baran of Poland, 8-0 and Jose Diaz of Venezuela, 11-1. He won the semifinals over tough Abbas Tahan of Iran, 6-3. In the finals, he scored a late takedown to beat 2014 World champion Abdusalam Gadisov of Russia, 5-5 by criteria.
To make the U.S. World Team, he had to defeat 2012 Olympic champion and 2011 World bronze medalist Jake Varner for the top spot. He defeated Varner in the finals of the 2015 U.S. Open in Las Vegas, Nev. in May, 2-1. He later stopped Varner in two straight matches in the championship series of the U.S. World Team Trials in Madison, Wis. in June, 4-1 and 3-0.
Four days ago in Iowa City, Snyder became the first active Buckeye wrestler to make an Olympic team with two wins over Varner in the championship round by an aggregate score of 10-1.
Snyder is the third member of the Ohio Regional Training Center to win the John Smith Award, joining Tervel Dlagnev in 2014 and J.D. Bergman in 2010.
After originally intending to redshirt during the 2015-16 season, Snyder came back for the Buckeyes in January and went 11-0 on his way to winning the NCAA title at heavyweight with a dramatic 7-5 SV-1 victory over two-time defending champion and unbeaten Nick Gwiazdowski of N.C. State.