Ohio State is used to being the home of national champions, but now a world champion is also among its ranks.
Sophomore wrestler Kyle Snyder took home the gold medal in the 97-kilogram freestyle competition at the 2015 World Championships on Friday in Las Vegas. At 19 years old, Snyder became the youngest-ever world wrestling champion from the United States.
Prior to Snyder’s victory, the youngest U.S. wrestler to be victorious at the World Championships was 20-year-old Andre Metzger in 1979.
Snyder said he is proud of his place in the history books.
“I like making history,” the Woodbine, Maryland, native said following his win. “I want to be known as one of the greatest wrestlers to ever live, and that’s what I plan on doing.”
Snyder credits his parents for his ability to succeed at such a young age.
“They raised me the right way. They told me that if you work hard, make the right decisions and you’re just hungry for something, to do everything you can to get it,” Snyder said. “I just believed in that.”
Ranked No. 15 in the world prior to the competition, his closest match came in the first round against Ukraine’s No. 11-ranked Pavlo Oliynyk, which Snyder won by a score of 2–1. Snyder breezed through the next three rounds, beating Poland’s Radoslaw Baran (ranked No. 8) and Venezuela’s Jose Daniel Diaz Robertti and Iran’s Abbas Tahan (ranked No. 13) by a combined 25–4.
In the gold medal match, Snyder tied defending world champion Abdusalam Gadisov of Russia 5–5 but earned the win based on an edge in criteria.
After taking second in both the Big Ten Conference Championships and the NCAA Championships just six months ago, Snyder said he was determined more than ever to prove himself as the best in the world.
“When you feel pain like that, you never want to feel it again,” he said. “This is what I’ve been thinking about doing since the NCAA finals, and I’ve been working hard with the coaches at Ohio State to get it done.”
Snyder is taking a redshirt this season to train for the 2016 Summer Olympics in Rio, but he said returning to OSU to finish his degree is also a priority.
“If I can wrestle the best guys in the world, then I should be able to go to class every day,” he said. “Homework’s no fun, but getting a degree is fun. Getting a good job after college is fun.”
The rest of the reigning NCAA champion Buckeyes are scheduled to take the mat on Oct. 29 for their annual Wrestle Offs.