Archives for August 2016

Kyle Snyder: Olympic Champion

In September, 2015, Steve Snyder was pensive as he headed to a celebratory dinner with family. Still a little stunned by what his 19 year old son had just accomplished, he could not help but fret for the future.

As a newly crowned World Wrestling Champion in Las Vegas, Kyle Snyder now faced the pressure that comes with a title in a year long run up to the Olympics, and dad Steve knew it. With more dread than joy in his voice, Steve concluded, “we all have to process what this is about.”

Kyle Snyder.  Courtesy,

Kyle Snyder. Courtesy,

The year that followed was eventful: a convincing loss to menacing Russian Anzor Boltukaev in January preceded a joyous NCAA triumph in Madison Square Garden. Then a comeback win against reigning Olympic champ Jake Varner in the Olympic Trials preceded a close loss in Germany to Khetag Gazyumov, the man Snyder has just vanquished in the biggest match of Snyder’s young life.


In becoming the youngest Olympic champ in American history (besting Henry Cejudo by a few months), Snyder showed the same things that has propelled his success: the ability to experiment and learn from defeat, the ability to out process an opponent’s thinking in the heat of battle and a motor that just never stops as those of opponents sputter.

The bout with Gazyumov was tense, power packed and strategic. No takedown was earned, yet Snyder struck when he could, resulting in a first point pushout, and backed out of danger when the single leg was not there. Kyle took heed of a warning, avoided the shot clock and earned the Olympic winner by putting his opponent on the clock.

The action was furious and maddening as the seconds ticked away. Everyone panicked except a 20 year old from Woodbine, MD.

It has been a wild year for Kyle Snyder–the highs were epically high. The lows were few and far between, almost like whispers of doubt and dread. But while they caused anxiety among critics and those close to Kyle, the champ himself never let them factor into his focus on the mission.

Steve, the wait and weight are done and gone. Rest easy. Lightly lies the crown.

Buckeye Kyle Snyder Wrestles for Gold

Accomplishing what no other American male has done at these 2016 Rio Olympics Games 20 year old Ohio State Junior Kyle Snyder will wrestle for gold.

Kyle Snyder.  Photo by Josephine Gartrell

Kyle Snyder. Photo by Josephine Gartrell

Snyder overcame an early four point throw by sixth ranked Elizbar Okidaze of Georgia to earn the right to face Azerbaijani Khetag Gazyumov, ranked third in the world. Gazyumov, himself a world champ, narrowly beat Snyder in July in the German Grand Prix semifinals.

Snyder started his day with convincing wins, first 10-3 over 19th ranked Javier Cortina of Cuba, then 7 zip over Albert Saritov, the 15th ranked 2011 Silver medalist from Romania.

Those wins set up a semi encounter with Okidaze. Snyder needed a last second takedown in June to beat Okidaze by tiebreaks at the World Cup in Los Angeles.

Snyder has had to fend off upper body throw attempts all day. Finally Okidaze connected, barely exposing Snyder’s back to the mat. Snyder trailed by four at the break. But then the 20 year old motor of the Ohio Regional Training Center prodigy took over. After three successive push out points it was obvious Snyder was taking control. Before I could tweet that observtion, Snyder had accomplished the go ahead takedown. Fighting off a dangerous scramble, Snyder nearly put Okidaze on his back, walking away with nine straight points to win 9-4 in a three minute Shermanesque pillaging of the defenseless Georgian.

As was true in the 2015 World Championships, Snyder truthfully has not had to contend with the toughest of brackets, though Okidaze is obviously a serious contender. But unlike the World Championships, there is some minimal seeding in 2016, and Snyder obviously earned his top seed. In Gazyumov he faces one of only two wrestlers to beat Snyder since the 2015 World Championships. It was widely thought Anzor Boltukaev, the other victor over Snyder would advance to face Snyder in the gold medal match. However, 30 year old Boltukaev of the doping plagued Russian Federation, was upset 8-5 in the round of 16 by eighth ranked Valeri Andriitsev of Ukraine.

Imposing Khetag Gazyumov of Azerbaijan awaits Kyle Snyder in the Olympic Gold medal match.  Courtesy, Gettyimages

Imposing Khetag Gazyumov of Azerbaijan awaits Kyle Snyder in the Olympic Gold medal match. Courtesy, Gettyimages

In Saturday’s action, Ohio Regional Training Center’s other medal contender Tervel Dlagnev gave a heroic effort but his chronically bad back stood in his way. After toying with his first two opponents and looking sharp, it was obvious he had been badly hurt in his semi-final match, giving up a quick takedown and four match ending gut wrenches. Really unable to go in the bronze match, he settled for an honorable fifth when the same fate awaited him in that bronze match.

The Dream 17: Urban Meyer’s Stranglehold on the Recruiting Game Part III and IV

URBANSTHE DREAM 17:  Urban Meyer’s Stranglehold on the Recruiting Game, Part III and IV

The Buckeyes are just a mere two weeks away from their first game of the season against the Bowling Green Falcons and although they are currently in constant pursuit of the edge, recruiting will never truly become an afterthought because of all the potential playmakers the Buckeyes have set their sights on.  We cannot just focus solely on the players that they are targeting and a lot of recruiting comes from maintaining a constant level of communication between the coaching staff and the players that have been committed for a long duration of time.  Memories of Bruce Judson should be the most fresh in all of our minds, but the train moves on.  Maintaining the relationships is important and although the staff is flexing their recruiting muscles for the whole nation to see, you could never fully keep the Ohio State staff away and with just 16 players committed out of potentially 20 or 21, I believe that the Buckeyes are just padding their stats and re-loaded at an unprecedented level that is adding toward their momentum.



Jake is a mammoth Offensive Tackle at 6-5, 285 lbs.  He was highly regarded and a key piece to Coach Meyer’s Offensive Line, but he suffered a torn ACL at a Buckeyes Camp and has been shelved temporarily.  While still  being in the Buckeyes plans, Moretti is planning to enroll early so that he can get a head start on getting his mind, body and spirit right for his journey as a Buckeye.  He is an elite tackle prospect and although he is shelved, he still garners the respect by being in the Top 100 player in the nation.  Sure we won’t see him in action because he is unable to, but Coach Meyer and company know exactly how to revive a players career and get the utmost best out of them.


Brendon White is the #2 rated Athlete in the nation due to his ability to make a play on both sides of the ball.  Just like Urban Meyer does, he stockpiles players that fit the mold of a multipurpose playmaker, who could impact either side of the ball game.  White is 6-1.5 and is a stout 200 lbs.  He can play Wide Receiver and Safety and until he makes it through the strength and conditioning program, we will just have to see.  Coach Meyer and his crew develop their players into more than the recruiting sites thought they would be and it’ll be fun to see if he can develop into a Darron Lee on defense or a lethal offensive weapon like Curtis Samuel.  We can only hope, but he provides a sure set of hands and the ability to catch on unsuspecting defenders and he could lay opposing players as a hard hitting, run stuffing safety.  Ah, hybrid players are indeed the best!


Amir Riep feels like one of those impact players to be and I am excited for his development as well as the rest of the current Buckeyes and the Buckeyes to be, but there is something about Riep and his rise after good showings at showcase events.  Ohio State received a commitment from a 5-11, 185 lb player who is projected to play cornerback.  Now, I don’t mean to rub it in or anything, but Ohio State has produced a pretty good amount of NFL caliber DB’s so…  You know where I am going with this.  Riep has that fluidity in his hips that will help him smother opposing players and Coach Meyer got a good one who has the potential to be great.  Ever since he blew up on the recruiting trail, the Buckeyes have their man and successfully fended away those pesky Spartans.  This was well worth the wait and we will see how Coach Coombs develops him.


Do you notice a trend yet?  Defensive Backs just want to be coached up at Ohio State and the rich get richer!  Marcus Williamson was one of the first few to commit and he has helped the Buckeyes on and off with recruiting while at the IMG Academy, a Buckeye pipeline located in Florida.  Projected at Cornerback, at 5-9, 180 lbs he is a bit undersized, but the talent pretty much speaks for itself.  He may be a work in progress, but the talent is there and it is up the coaching staff to develop him into a NFL Cornerback.  Being undersized isn’t that bad either, Damon Webb is around the same height and weight and look at him after the strength and conditioning program.  Webb is also in the midst of earning some playing time as well so there is nothing remotely wrong with his measurable statistics.  He brings speed and the mirroring ability that Riep brings and he will be another player to watch.


Does the last name ring a bell?  His older brother was high on the Buckeyes list in 2014 before he decided to play for the Fighting Irish.  Although he plays the same position as his brother at Defensive Tackle, the younger Cage sits at 6-1.5, 275 lbs and is in fact smaller than his older brother during their Senior years, but John Simon wasn’t a huge guy and that did not stop him from wreaking havoc all around the Defensive Line.  Cage has a quick first step and he can occupy space and make space for Linebackers to get to the Quarterback.  He also has a few nifty go to moves in which he will develop under the tutelage of Coach Johnson and Coach Fickell.  He will be a key cog and will be utilized if he can turn some heads when he arrives on campus and Ohio State needs depth along the D-Line anyway and that is why Cage will be one out of potentially three Interior Defensive Linemen that the Buckeyes will take this cycle.


Antjuan Simmons is a blessing in disguise for the Buckeyes.  He comes from That State Up North and right in That Team Up North’s back yard.  Literally!  That is what makes this recruiting victory so sweet.  Living in that territory can be rough, but he will be in good hands with Coach Meyer and company and I look for him to continue the tradition of Linebacker U while at Ohio State.  As the only Linebacker commit, he will be looked at to replace Raekwon McMillan on the interior or Chris Worley or Dante Booker on the outside, but at 6-1, 215 lbs he looks like a rock solid addition to the proud tradition.  Although ranked as the 289th overall player nationally, he will contribute as soon as that black stripe comes off and he looks like a monster.  With Ohio State chasing other Linebackers to come join Simmons, we can only wait and see, but it is so exciting to see playmakers come in droves to want to play for the Buckeyes.


Mr. Buckeye, the Prototype himself Danny Clark is Quarterback commit #2 and he isn’t backing down from competition after the commitment of fellow Quarterback prospect, Tate Martell.  I like his tenacity during Friday Night Lights as he competed fiercely the entire night.  I think it is safe to safe, barring any last-minute flips that the Quarterback position is one of the many deep position groups that the Buckeyes have.  Clark will add to the depth and he will looks to surprise some people.  At 6-5, 223 lbs, he is a Pro Style Quarterback, opposite of Martell who is the top Dual Threat Quarterback prospect.  Clark is quick on his feet, but he can throw the ball with velocity and accuracy.  Most of his passes were on the money and he will look to compete at Ohio State with one of the most crowded groups or units.  With time, I think he will develop and potentially become the Cardale Jones or the Kenny Guiton of the team and be that leader from the bench or the one who saves the day after numerous, unplanned injuries.  We will see and I for one am hoping that he stays on board.


You know how Coach Meyer loves his Special Teams?  Yeah, he used one of the spots in this years class for a Special Teamer who so happens to be the #1 Kicker in the nation.  It is some serious business and we need it.  Sean Nuernberger is in his Junior season and we need a player to fill in once he departs and it so happens to be Haubeil, at 6-3, 200 lbs.   He is willing to pay for the first semester at Ohio State to add a scholarship to add a key player so he may forgo the grayshirt and just pay until his scholarship is guaranteed.  I love this kid already.  A truly selfless act and he should be a good player in the future.  He has a leg that is capable of routinely nailing 30-45 yarders and who knows, he may be able to hit from downtown too.  All we have to do is wait and see, but I am confident that he will be game ready when the time comes.

fall is herefallfall is coming


On Deck for Olympic Wrestling: Ohio

From a big picture perspective, American wrestling got a huge boost from an unlikely source. Helen Maroulis of Maryland not only became the first American woman to win a gold in Olympic wrestling, she did so by beating 13 consecutive world champion and Japanese flag bearer in the 2012 London games, Saori Yoshida. Although Yoshida is 33 years old, few thought she was susceptible of not winning gold in Rio.

Women’s success in wrestling is certainly a shot in the arm at so many levels including the new found publicity, advancing the perception and continuing to give growth to women’s collegiate wrestling, which in the end can only help the men’s game.

But in the moment, the Rio games so far have been a vast disappointment. Not much was expected from the American Greco team, and indeed, not much was delivered. The team was shut out from a medal perspective.

But freestyle was a different story. While Daniel Dennis was not perceived as a threat to win gold, his story is compelling and he certainly had a shot at a medal. Dennis is a man with a winning gut wrench–just ask Tony Ramos. However, in not much more more than a minute into his opening match with Dubov of Bulgaria, he was taken down and quickly turned four times for the loss on technical superiority. When Dubov squandered a four point lead in the semis, it appears 28 year old Dennis’ Olympic career is done.

More shocking however was the failure to medal for defending Olympic and world champion Jordan Burroughs. Burroughs perhaps spent more time getting blood cleaned from his head than wrestling, but whatever the cause, he started slowly. A first period shot clock point was the difference in a 3-2 loss to Aniuar Geduev of Russia.

The crazy random seeding of the Olympics (it is my understanding a computer generated random bracket number is given to each wrestler as they weigh in) had No. 1 Burroughs going against No. 2 Geduev. When Geduev overcame his own 4-0 deficit to win 5-4 in his semi match, medal hopes were high for Burroughs. However, he was completely dominated in his repechage match, losing by technical superiority.

Hope is not lost. Missouri senior J’Den Cox has done extremely well on the international circuit since his surprise win at the Olympic Trials–he went out and qualified the class by himself. Where the blind draw may have hurt Burroughs, on paper it lines up very favorably for Cox. I would not be surprised to see him standing on a podium tomorrow night.

But now is time for the Ohio Regional Training Center to flex. Also up tomorrow is long-time American heavy strong man, Tervel Dlagnev. Dlagnev, who will become an Ohio State assistant coach once the Olympics end, has sat out of international competition much of the last two years so as to not reinjure a troublesome back.

Indeed, in the most recent eight nation World Cup in Los Angeles, the US placed second to Iran by tie-breakers. While Jake Varner did a valiant job wrestling up at heavyweight, the US certainly could have benefited from a healthy Tervel.

Dlagnev’s absence has him ranked a mere 14th in the latest UWW rankings, but that is likely very misleading. A two time world bronze medalist, Dlagnev is fully capable of medaling in Rio.

That being said, Dlagnev’s draw is brutal. He likely will open with the reigning world silver medalist. If he could forge his way to a win, he would face the survivor of a bracket of death which contains the No. 1 and 2 ranked wrestlers in the world and a 2014 silver medalist.

The task ahead is brutally difficult for Dlagnev but he is fully capable of the surprise.

Saturday will be an interesting day. My calendar says Sunday is the following day, and that is when the second half of the Ohio Regional Training Center dynamic duo, Kyle Snyder, takes the stage.

How Heavy Lies the Crown?

If Kyle Snyder’s collegiate wrestling career to date could be summed up as dramatic, his international career has been astounding. For the five or six years preceding 2015, the 96/97kg weight class had been dominated by former Buckeye JD Bergman and 2012 Olympic gold medalist Jake Varner from Bakersfield, CA.

Kyle Snyder vs. Jake Varner, 2016 US Trials.  Photo by Josephine Gartrell

Kyle Snyder vs. Jake Varner, 2016 US Trials. Photo by Josephine Gartrell

Ohio State fans were spared the agonizing choice of having to witness a Snyder/Bergman match. In more recent bouts it has been Varner reversing most past results to best Bergman, and then Snyder taking it to Varner, as he did in the 2015 US Open, 2015 US Team Trials and 2016 Olympic Trials.

Of course, sandwiched between the 2015 and 2016 Trials was Snyder’s epic win at the 2015 World Championships in Las Vegas. Snyder was a bit lucky in the sense that his trip to the finals included matches against challenging opponents who nonetheless paled in comparison to the resumes of the wrestlers in the opposite bracket.

Still, in the semifinals Snyder opposed veteran Abbas Tahan of Iran. With a narrow lead at the end of the match, the American teenager stood at the center and aggressively motioned to a complaining Tahan to stop stalling and return to the mat. Weak bracket or not, the win propelled Snyder to an incomparable trip to the finals against perennial strong man Abdusalam Gadisov of Russia.

Kyle Snyder, currently ranked 4th in the world by United World Wrestling, has several things going for him, including confidence, a constant devotion to the mental aspects of his craft and an unmatched work ethic. But, when combined with those attributes, the thing that makes him a world force is his 20 year old motor, something that was in clear evidence against Varner in their many matches, and against Tahan and Gadisov in that remarkable day in Las Vegas in 2015.

Patented ankle picks staked Snyder to a late lead against Gadisov. Not wishing to get caught in a tragic mistake (as happened to him in the 2015 NCAA finals) and owning the tie break, Snyder simply played it tough from a defensive standpoint to avoid a takedown which would reverse the desired result. When a late, perhaps phantom, pushout brought the score to even at 5, Snyder’s corner wanted to contest the call. Showing poise and mental strength in the heat of battle, Snyder declined to challenge. Knowing he had the older Gadisov on the ropes, Snyder did not want to offer a vital rest recovery despite the fact he might gain a point back.



Few scenes in sport can match what was about to happen when Snyder victoriously blanketed himself with the American flag, circled the mat and fell to his knees in thankful praise.

Does menacing top ranked Boltukayev of Russia await Kyle Snyder? Courtesy, UnitedWorldWrestling

Does menacing top ranked Boltukayev of Russia await Kyle Snyder? Courtesy, UnitedWorldWrestling

By ranking, No. 4 Kyle Snyder is not a favorite to win gold this Sunday on the final day of the Rio Olympics. He was beaten somewhat convincingly at a Russian tournament in January by No. 1 Anzor Boltukayev of the doping plagued Russian Federation. He was also beaten narrowly by No. 3 Khetag Gazyumov of Azerbaijan.

But we have seen this before. Snyder has proven to be a student of the game, unafraid to experiment, grow and get stronger. Any one of a dozen wrestlers are capable of winning gold but it really is hard to bet against Snyder.

In the 2016 Olympic Trials Jake Varner came out and won a tightly contested first of three matches with Snyder. Snyder reset his focus for match two and Varner never had a chance from that point on. Snyder has been preparing and focusing on Sunday for enough time now that a new historic chapter seems well within his grasp.

Kyle’s Garden Party

To this point, 20 year old Kyle Snyder has enjoyed success in the two main avenues of American wrestling: freestyle (think international and Olympics) and folkstyle (high school and college). The wildest ride by far has been in folkstyle.

Kyle’s older brother Stephen was a two time Maryland state high school champ who went on to a stellar career at West Point. His younger brother Kevin had been accepted to wrestle at the Naval Academy until those pesky and exacting military physical admission requirements (vision, etc) got in the way. This fall he will join Kyle on the Ohio State wrestling team.

Kyle is a double whammy tweener in the sense that he is a full 97kg freestyler, meaning he has to work hard to get to his freestyle weight of 213.4 pounds, and even harder to get to the collegiate weight of 197 pounds.

This stretch presents a common problem. In both freestyle and college, 197 pounds and 97kg represent the last refuge before a wrestler is forced into the huge void between those weights and the last, heaviest weights: 285 pounds in college and 125kg (275 pounds) in freestyle. The heavyweight divisions are such that it is very difficult for a wrestler to be successful at less than about 6’3″ in height, because it is that length which can really take on the muscle mass necessary to compete with the top tier guys who have packed as much strength as they can into 275-285 pounds.

So what you have at 197 or 213.4 pounds are all the guys shorter than 6’3″ (which is going to be a much more robust number than the guys at 6’3″ or taller) packing on all the power and muscle they can to avoid making the huge leap in class. In this sense, it really is a muscle man mauler of a weight class.

As a true collegiate freshman coming off two consecutive medals, including a gold, at the junior worlds, Kyle was certainly ready to compete at a high level for Ohio State. His first early test came at the December, 2014 Cliff Keen Tournament in Las Vegas against Missouri sophomore J’Den Cox, who eight months earlier had won an NCAA title by hanging on to avoid a last second takedown in the finals by Ohio State’s Nick Heflin. (Cox, by the way, as an upcoming senior at Missouri had his own magical run in the Olympic Trials, claiming a spot as Snyder’s Olympic teammate at 86kg).

Snyder lost a close one to Cox, an old nemesis, but not so much because of any lack of talent. Indeed, a lack of experience at the collegiate level seemed more at issue, something that would occur again in Kyle’s other regular season loss.

For the most part though, Kyle dominated in the regular season, riding to a B1G tourney final match-up in Columbus against Morgan McIntosh of Penn State. McIntosh, a fireplug of a strongman just seemed like a hard match-up for Snyder. The resulting close win by McIntosh sent Snyder to the NCAA Tournament in St. Louis as a four seed.

A four seed meant Snyder would have to meet up with Cox in the semi-finals, but this time Snyder prevailed in a close but convincing win, sending him to the finals against Kyven Gadson of Iowa State.

The Buckeyes had clinched its first national championship in the medal round that preceded the championship bouts. When 184 pound Kenny Courts took fifth place in his magical tournament run, Ohio State put enough points between itself and the field that it did not matter what happened from there on.

The 2015 tournament was dominated by the fact that Buckeye Logan Stieber was shooting to become only the fourth NCAA wrestler to win four national titles. Thus the dramatic buildup in the order was set so that Stieber’s 141 match would be last. Given that Buckeye 125 pounder Nathan Tomasello had also streaked to the finals, the coronation of Ohio State as team champion would be highlighted with Buckeyes going for three titles in the last five matches, starting with Kyle’s 197 pound title bout.

Kyle emerged from the smokey tunnel and bounded on stage confident he would be the next four time NCAA winner, starting then. Snyder thrives on lightning quick ankle attacks. Although everyone in the world knows they are coming, his strength, mobility and trigger points are such that they cannot be stopped.

And so it was with Gadson–Kyle got in quickly but had some trouble pulling in the powerful Gadson’s leg, so to gain leverage, Kyle stood up, bringing Gadson with him. Whether out of exuberance or simply bad luck, Kyle found himself upright in an uprotected position. Gadson caught Snyder’s leg at the same time he had an under/over shoulder lock. Like spinning the wheel on a large boat, Gadson easily tripped Snyder, spun him to his back and quickly administered a mind-numbing fall.

Snyder, stunned, accepted Gadson’s handshake, put his head down and exited speechless past condolence offering Buckeye coach Ross Thatcher. While Tomasello and Stieber would go on to win titles and the team would revel in its historic moment, Snyder could not escape his own crushing, dream shattering defeat.

The course of events would erase the pain as the months unfolded. Although eligible to compete in the junior worlds, Snyder elected to go in the senior division, making history as he won the US Open and US Team Trials. He then shocked the world by winning a world title in September, 2015.

The Ohio State coaches had no trouble suggesting to Kyle that he redshirt from Ohio State to concentrate solely on the Olympics, meaning Ohio State would try to defend its NCAA title without the volume of points that surely would come from a runner-up from 2015.

I ran into Coach Ryan at the US Open in Las Vegas in December, 2015. Because of the Olympic schedule the Open was being held before the end of the collegiate season so that the Olympic Trials could take place to provide a decent gap between the start of the Olympics.

Coach Ryan held a secret. With the success of Tomasello and Buckeye brothers Bo and Micah Jordan, Ryan knew things could be looking up, especially if Hunter Stieber could return from his elbow injuries (a possibility that, like an OSU repeat, never materialized). He revealed he was planning to pull the redshirt of freshman sensation Myles Martin (a prescient move–Martin himself would stun wrestling fans by winning a national title a few months later).

But Ryan was not done. He smiled as I tried to guess what else he had in mind. Kyle Snyder had bigger fish to fry, and besides, he could not get down to 197 pounds in March to compete at 213.4 pounds at the Olympic Trials the next month. That would crazy. I nearly swallowed my tongue when Ryan whispered Kyle was coming back at 285! Kyle Snyder is awesome, but a 213 pound wrestler competing at 285 is kind of like a 125 pounder competing at 174. “No $%&0 way man! You’re nuts!”

But that is what Snyder did. He won a few regular season matches and then breezed through the B1G brackets to face Michigan’s highly successful Adam Coon. At a muscular and towering 6’5″ Coon was an NCAA runner-up the year before. In the B1G finals, Snyder simply took the taller Coon down with ankle picks time and time again to head to the NCAA championships in Madison Square Garden as a B1G champion.

What could have been a better script? The most iconic arena in America. The youngest world champion in US history, potentially facing two time NCAA champion Nick Gwiazdowski of North Carolina State. Nearly as tall as Coon but twice as strong. As good as Snyder obviously is, not many really gave him a chance against Gwiz.

The two breezed to the finals, and in recognition of the magnitude of the event, a heavyweight match was set up as the true ultimate finale. In what many believe is the greatest collegiate heavyweight match of all time, Snyder seemed overpowered at first. He was able to get to Gwiz’ legs with ease, but the hulking Wolfpack defending champ would easily muscle out.

As the match wound down to its final 30 seconds Snyder trailed by 2. At this point, the one physical advantage Snyder had–conditioning–was starting to emerge. But Snyder knew if he took Gwiz down too soon, he would not have the strength to hold on. Think about that–a wrestler in need of points at the end of the match, waited until the final seconds to strike. Usually wrestlers are in a frantic panic to strike as the seconds tick away. But such is the confidence and skill of Snyder who proceeded to do just that to send the match into overtime.

In overtime, Snyder was able to get to Gwiazdowski’s legs, but this time Gwiz was without the energy to work his way out. When a torso flip failed, Gwiz gave into reality, relaxed his grip and surrendered the match losing sudden death points to Snyder.

Nearby is an instant Ohio State classic photo. In it are Snyder and Gwiz as the winning takedown is given. Coach Thatcher can be seen leaping into the rafters. And there is Coach Ryan, pointing and running in youthful and unbounded joy. While Coach Ryan has witnessed exhilarating highs, he has also felt the devastating lows life can deliver.

Kyle Snyder, NCAA 2016

When Kyle Snyder committed to come to Ohio State he wanted to put a smile on his coach’s face. You can be sure this picture embraces all he could have wanted to achieve in college as his coach expresses the indescribable high Kyle’s enormous talent has brought.

Kyle Snyder, Man of Steelwood

On January 1, 2013, OSU Wrestling coach Tom Ryan received a call from a high school aged wrestler committing to Coach Ryan’s program. The call, from Marylander Kyle Snyder was like an earlier Ohio State football commitment from Terrelle Pryor in the sense they were both were from the East, both were consensus number one recruits and both committed to charismatic, devout and player oriented coaches. “I just wanted to put a smile on your face to start the new year,” Snyder told his new coach.

Kyle Snyder has been putting smiles on a lot of faces since that time. Later in 2013, as a 17 year old, Snyder went on to win a World Junior title (age 20 and under), a feat he nearly duplicated in 2014 when he placed third. He then skipped his senior year of high school at Our Lady of Good Counsel (Olney, MD) to train at the Olympic Training Center in Colorado. A three time Maryland state champion with a 179-0 record (the legend is he surrendered only one takedown in those three years), Kyle had earlier discontinued his role as a starting lineman on Good Counsel’s nationally ranked football team.

Snyder’s close bond with Coach Ryan was unquestionably a factor in his decision to commit to Ohio State and it did not hurt that the program boasted Logan Stieber who at the time of Snyder’s commitment was well on his way to joining the elite club of four-time NCAA champions. But there was more.

The Ohio State wrestling team practices in an industrial setting on Steelwood Road, west of campus and removed from the bustle of campus life. While construction is about to start on a state of the art facility in the heart of the school’s vast athletic complex, wrestlers currently trek to the aptly named and spartan “Steelwood” wrestling room.

Steelwood is home to something more than Ohio State Wrestling–it also rents its wrestling space to the Ohio Regional Training Center which has quietly taken a place among the elite amateur freestyle training programs in the country. ORTC’s head coach is frequent national team volunteer coach and Ohio State Assistant Coach Lou Rosselli, himself a former Olympian.

ORTC is the brainchild of Coach Ryan who with Andy Barth, in conjunction with Titan Mercury Wrestling Club, has built ORTC into a destination for elite wrestlers. In 2013 on the Oklahoma State campus, ORTC saw its athletes capture a majority of US World Team spots including Angel Escobedo, former Buckeye Reece Humphrey, Keith Gavin, former Buckeye JD Bergman and Tervel Dlagnev. In Bergman and Dlagnev, who at the time wrestled at 96kg and 120kg respectively, Snyder had the opportunity to train with the best in the country without leaving the OSU wrestling room.

Snyder, who is constantly thinking and talking wrestling, also roomed with OSU redshirt freshman Nathan Tomasello, a highly prized recruit who shocked the wrestling world by winning the 125lb NCAA title in 2015 as the Buckeyes sprinted to their first national title.

Today, ORTC boasts a nation-leading two of the six freestylers who will compete this week in the Olympics with several more waiting their turns. Joining Snyder (97kg) in Rio will be Tervel Dlagnev (125kg), a two time world bronze medalist. Already an honorary Buckeye, Dlagnev will join the Ohio State coaching staff after the conclusion of the Olympics. We will have more to say about Tervel on Friday in anticipation of his Saturday bouts in Rio.

And what about those “waiting their turns”? Casual wrestling fans will often ask, “what about Logan Stieber”? The simple fact is that Stieber lost on a tie breaker at the Olympic trials to eventual Olympian Frank Molinaro of Penn State. Molinaro, who seemingly came from nowhere, won four bouts at the Olympic Trials by tie breakers to claim the 65kg spot.

Stieber, a former Junior World silver medalist, was originally pegged to take an Ohio State assistant coaching spot after Rio. Since his trials defeat he has decided to train exclusively in freestyle at ORTC with the goal of making national teams, winning world titles and competing in the 2020 Olympics. Ohio wrestling fans will be excited to hear his brother Hunter, recovering from two devastating elbow injuries will also continue competing. Fans might remember that Hunter’s health woes started during his 2014 PanAm freestyle triumph in Mexico.

Because of Kyle Snyder’s freakish achievements at such a young age, he will become the veteran standard bearer for ORTC once the games conclude and Tervel moves onto coaching. The nucleus of Snyder and the Stiebers will undoubtedly be joined over time by the likes of OSU redshirt freshman Kollin Moore, who recently claimed a spot on the US Junior World Team at 96kg and Tomasello as each takes up the challenge as aspiring Olympians.

Even if only in spirit once the physical move to campus is complete, they certainly will find strength at Steelwood.

A Buckeye’s Road to Rio

Hope you are having a great summer and that you are especially enjoying the summer sports. We at Motsag are in the midst of a re-invigoration to become a premier destination of Buckeye related sports journalism. Until we re-launch we are keeping you up to date on all the interesting football camp tidbits we come across, for current and past Buckeyes.

This week we will be adding a daily piece as a lead up to one Buckeye’s quest for gold–wrestler Buckeye Kyle Snyder. You may or may not have noticed, but Motsag has been the most prolific news outlet covering Buckeye wrestling. Not only have we reported live from B1G and NCAA tournaments (including last year’s NCAA Championship at Madison Square Garden), but we have been at every single event leading to Buckeye Kyle Snyder’s ascension to become the youngest World Wrestling Champion in US history.

We covered the 2015 US Open when Kyle eschewed competing in the Junior World Division, beating the defending Olympic Champion (London 2012) Jake Varner. We were present in July, 2015 when Kyle repeated the feat at the US Team Trials sending him to the World Championships.

We witnessed one of the colossal feats of sport as teenager Kyle Snyder out-thought, cajoled and man-handled seasoned champions to become Champion of the World. In April, 2016 we were in Iowa City to see Snyder hold back the last reach for glory by Jake Varner at the Olympic Trials.

So after breaking our arm congratulating ourselves, who better to warm you up for witnessing what could be more history–something we do not take for granted. As good as Kyle is and has proven to be, winning a gold medal is a whole new mountain to climb.

We will not be taking a break from football. We are on the case. But you should know that football and wrestling have strong links. Buckeye grid iron stars such as Luke Fickel were wrestling champs. Luke is a frequent fixture at OSU wrestling events.

Matt Finkes, another wrestling champion actually works hard helping the Ohio Regional Training Center, which supports Kyle and other Ohio State greats, such as Logan Stieber, Reece Humphrey and JD Bergman. And let’s not forget Olympic medalist hopeful and honorary Buckeye (and new OSU assistant wrestling coach) heavyweight Tervel Dlagnev who has trained for years at the Ohio Regional Training Center.

During OSU’s epic 2015 run to its first national wrestling title, one of their biggest fans was Urban Meyer who was present on the floor and the bench in the Buckeye’s B1G Championship at St. John’s Arena two weeks prior.

And then there was this old, great wrestler and occasional football dabbler, Archie Griffin.

We turned down the opportunity to report from Rio–something I will surely regret in a few years, but we will have lots of live coverage and an occasional check-in from Buckeye Wrestling Coach Tom Ryan. Stay posted.

The Dream 17: Urban Meyer’s Stranglehold on the Recruiting Game Part II

UrbsAnother week closer to the College Football season and Coach Urban Meyer and his band of merry men have been taking the recruiting world by storm.  Their status, whether committed or uncommitted–THEY WILL FIND YOU!  Coach Meyer and his coaches have been building a perennial juggernaut and this class is just the start of the warpath that they have been committed to for the duration of Meyer’s tenure at Ohio State.  It seem as if though there aren’t any boundaries, no limit to this coaching staff’s reach.  They can pull from just about any part of the country for either top tier talents or the Darron Lee’s and Ezekiel Elliott’s of the recruiting world.  You flatly just never know until they immerse themselves and adopt the culture that is in place at Ohio State.  Here is another installment of The Dream 17.  Enjoy!

J.K. Dobbins:


J.K. Dobbins is one of those running backs that remind you of the great ones.  The Zeke’s, the El Guapo’s the Beanie’s and the Boom’s that hold a special place in all Buckeyes fans hearts.  He is the reigning Sparq rating champion and he looks to play the part on when he gets an opportunity to show out in the Scarlet and Gray.  Dobbins hails from La Grange, Texas and stand at a solid 5-9.5, 199 lbs.  Once he enrolls and goes through the rigors of Coach Marotti’s strength and conditioning program, I fully expect him to grow into his frame and pack on a ton of muscle.  He has made some noise about the potential for fellow running back Cam Akers joining him at Ohio State and if Buckeye recruiting vets have been paying attention, it eerily similar to the Four Star, 12th overall Running Back Ezekiel Elliott or Five Star 4th overall Running Back Derrick Green.  Hope that it does not come to that because this kid is going to be a beast for years to come.  He can do it all, just like Zeke so hopefully, he sticks with the Buckeyes regardless of the persistent chatter that he may eventually flip because the depth at running back took a huge hit with the dismissal of Brionte’ Dunn this off-season.  Tote Nation needs you J.K., with or without Cam.

Isaiah Pryor:


I don’t care what you say but Ohio State can be called and considered as DBU.  With Buckeye greats ranging from the various era’s, Arnie Chonko, Neal Colzie, Tim Fox, Ray Griffin, Mike Sensibaugh, Shawn Springs, Antoine Winfield, Jack Tatum, Chris Gamble, Malcolm Jenkins, Kurt Coleman, and more recently Vonn Bell and Eli Apple who both left early for the NFL.  Pryor look to continue to uphold the legacy of all the Buckeye greats.  He comes from the IMG Academy and stands at 6-1.5, 195 lbs.  He is a rangy prospect and he is versatile enough to play both cornerback and either safety spot.  He can wreak havoc against the run, being able to shed blocks while still being able to play in coverage.  The sky is the limit with Pryor and seeing that he has been on board for a while now, I feel that he is securely in the plans for the Buckeyes future.  He is talented and is an able learner.  He will take guidance from Coach Schiano upon his arrival.  He will look to secure playing time and he will surely try to vie for time against oft-injured upperclassmen that have been in the program longer.  You never know during the offseason, so it will be an exciting time to see who the next great Buckeye Defensive Back will be or if we will have multiple emerge.

Tate Martell:


The rich get richer and with Ohio State, they have lost both Braxton Miller and Cardale Jones to the draft and with J.T. Barrett returning along with Stephen Collier (out for season with torn ACL), Joey Burrow, Quarterback turned Wide Receiver Torrance Gibson and incoming Freshman Dwayne Haskins, the Buckeyes add two more, if they stay and one of them is Tate Martell out of Las Vegas, Nevada.  Yes, rumors per another recruit state that one of the two will not be a part of the Dream 17, but until something is confirmed, it is all heresy.  Martell is 5-10.5, 203 lbs and he is often compared to Johnny Manziel, which is flattering when comparing playing styles, but hopefully he hates to party.  Martell is the #1 Dual-Threat Quarterback and if he lives up to the hype, he could be the next Troy Smith.  He is just as accurate while passing the rock as he is when he is making a mad dash for the first down or for the touchdown.  He looks to be a key piece of this class and if Ohio State needed it, he can also recruit.  While at The Opening he was seen regularly with top-tier prospects attempting to get them to join him in this class.  Two of those targets make their decisions at the end of the month and he is not going to stop until the Buckeyes secure the top class for this one and for years to come.

Haskell Garrett:


Haskell Garrett is another mammoth, with huge potential and upside that the Buckeyes have plucked away from the West Coast.  Garrett hails from Las Vegas, Nevada and is teammates with Tate Martell.  Garrett is 6-2, 298 and looks like the part and oh, he plays like his head is on fire.  At The Opening, he wrecked some of the top rated offensive linemen prospects and held his own for the duration of the drills.  With Coach Marotti’s program, he will turn into highly sought after high school prospect to the next Adolphus Washington, Michael Bennett or Jonathan Hankins that will wreak havoc for offensive lines in the BIG 10.  This kid is already a wrecking ball and with the correct guidance from Coach Fickell and Coach Johnson, he will develop like all the other prospects who committed and who had embraced the ways at Ohio State.  Look at Sam Hubbard and Tyquan Lewis.  They waited and look at them now.  They developed and forced their way into a starting position.  Garrett will do the same and who knows, he might beat out the upperclassmen placed above him.  He has the tools, the aggression and the potential to shoot up the depth chart.  He just has to work at it and he will be the next Buckeye great on the inside of the defensive line.


There is a lot to be excited about for this recruiting class and there is a potential for fireworks and possibly another huge run when landing additional prospect to seal the deal and ensure that the Buckeyes dethrone Alabama atop the recruiting ranks.  Although there is still a ton of time left, I will not let myself make hasty notions or statements prior to National Signing Day.  There can be twists and turns (Johnny Townsend, Carlton Davis) and until then, I will continue to dish out on the Dream 17 and beyond.  Hope you enjoyed!  Go Bucks!  O-H!