After winning a world championship, a Big Ten championship and a national championship in less than a year, Ohio State sophomore wrestler Kyle Snyder added another accomplishment to his résumé: an Olympic berth.
Snyder was victorious in Iowa City, Iowa, on Sunday after taking down 2012 Olympic gold medalist Jake Varner in the best-of-three series of matches. As the reigning world champion, Snyder received an automatic spot in the finals.
“It’s pretty hard to describe,” Snyder said in an OSU press release. “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.”
Varner won in the first meeting, but Snyder rebounded after a short resting period. The OSU sophomore tied the score 4-4 in the initial bout but lost because of criteria.
Snyder walked out from the locker room with a much more focused demeanor for the next meeting and showed complete control in the next two matches, outscoring Varner 10-1.
“It was pretty nerve-wracking,” Snyder said in the release. “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.”
It’s the fourth time Snyder has beaten Varner in his career. Last year, prior to his world championship, Snyder toppled Varner twice in the U.S. Team Trials and once at the U.S. Open.
The freshly crowned heavyweight champion is set to represent the United States at 97 kilograms in Rio de Janeiro from Aug. 5 to 21.
Snyder joins a handful of OSU alumni who have earned their way onto the U.S. Olympic team in the past. Mark Coleman finished seventh in 1992, while Perry Martter and Harry Steel competed in 1924.
Snyder is the only Buckeye wrestler to make it to the Olympics while an active member of the Scarlet and Gray.
All other OSU wrestlers shooting for a spot on the national team were eliminated from contention earlier in the day, including redshirt sophomore Nathan Tomasello and the Buckeyes’ most notable alumnus, four-time NCAA champion Logan Stieber. Tomasello lost in the quarterfinals, while Stieber lost in the semifinals.