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Wrestling: Kyle Snyder wins U.S. Male Olympic athlete of the year award

OSU senior Kyle Snyder peeks at the scoreboard while battling Kent State redshirt junior Devin Nye on November 21, 2017 in Columbus, OH. Credit: Colin Barringer | For The Lantern

Ohio State senior heavyweight wrestler Kyle Snyder was named U.S. Male Olympic Athlete of the Year Wednesday by the U.S. Olympic Committee at the 2017 Team USA Awards.

The crown jewel of Snyder’s year came in Paris at the World Wrestling Championships in August. He defeated Abdulrashid Sadulaev of Russia to win gold at 97kg while clinching a team championship for the U.S. The gold medal was his third in a row after winning an Olympic championship in 2016 and a world title in 2015.

He also won the Ivan Yarygin Grand Prix in Russia and gold medals at the Pan American Championships and the Grand Prix of Spain. Other international accomplishments within the year for Snyder include winning the U.S. Senior Open and the U.S. World Team Trials while stateside.

Snyder returned to Columbus and Steelwood Training Facility on Thursday and reflected on the honor and the year that added to the resume of the Olympic gold medalist.

“It was a great honor,” Snyder said. “There were a lot of great nominees. It was really fun to be a part of the show and I’m just thankful that I was able to win the award and hopefully I can continue to represent Team USA and Ohio State at an elite level.”

Even though he’s just 22 years of age and still a college student, Snyder is viewed as a leader for his country by all Olympic athletes. He doesn’t find the responsibility to be daunting or weird. He likes it.

“I consider myself to be a leader,” Snyder said. “I think other people on the team do as well. Ever since I was a kid I liked being thought of as a team captain and leading by example.”

While his Ohio State teammates will be competing at the Cliff Keen Las Vegas Invitational in Nevada over the weekend, Snyder will be away attempting to gain an early lead on winning the Male Olympian of the Year again in 2018. He’s heading to Iran to wrestle in the World Clubs Cup on Dec. 7.

The World Clubs Cup will feature a dual-meet format and some worthy competition for Snyder, who occasionally finds it hard to find level competition while wrestling collegiately. He’s looking for a challenge anywhere he can find it.

“I’m looking forward to the team aspect of it,” Snyder said. “You don’t typically get to compete in a dual-meet format internationally so that’s really fun. And Sadulaev’s supposed to be there but I think he’s going to be at the weight class below me. We’ll see what happens. Maybe I’ll bump up and wrestle heavyweight for a match if someone’s good. That’d be cool.”

Wrestling is followed with great interest by fans in Iran, and Snyder often interacts with them on social media. He said he is followed on Instagram by more residents of Tehran, Iran than he is by residents of Columbus.

“Iran has a deep history of wrestling and they appreciate great wrestlers,” Snyder said. “They’re the most passionate fans that I’ve ever been around when it comes to wrestling.”

Snyder has come to terms with the fact that his schedule will not allow him to compete out west with the Buckeyes and said no part of him wishes he could still be there while he prepares for Iran. He has confidence that the team can still win the invitational.

Ohio State will also be without redshirt senior All-American Nathan Tomasello due to a knee injury and junior Joey McKenna, who is resting after competing internationally last week. The Buckeyes still have a chance to put the wrestling world on notice.

“If we win it without us three, that’s serious,” Snyder said. “Real serious. People should be scared.”

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