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.