Kyle Snyder, second from left, receives the John Smith Freestyle Wrestler of the Year Award from USA Wrestling president James Ravannack, wrestling legend Dan Gable and USA Wrestling Executive Director Rich Bender in Iowa City, Iowa. Photo by Tony Rotundo, Wrestlers Are Warriors.
By Gary Abbott: USA Wrestling
Kyle Snyder (Woodbine, Md./Titan Mercury WC/Ohio RTC) has been named the winner of the 2015 John Smith Award as the Freestyle Wrestler of the Year by USA Wrestling. It is the first time that Snyder has won this prestigious award.
Snyder won a gold medal at 97 kg/213 lbs. at the 2015 World Wrestling Championships in Las Vegas, Nev. in September, becoming the youngest American to win a World title at the age of 19.
Snyder opened with a 2-1 win over past World medalist Pablo Oliinyk of Ukraine. He followed with dominant wins over Radoslaw Baran of Poland, 8-0 and Jose Diaz of Venezuela, 11-1. He won the semifinals over tough Abbas Tahan of Iran, 6-3. In the finals, he scored a late takedown to beat 2014 World champion Abdusalam Gadisov of Russia, 5-5 by criteria.
Snyder won a gold medal at the 2015 Pan American Games in Toronto, Canada in July with three technical fall victories, including a 10-0 win over Arjun Gill of Canada in the finals.
To make the U.S. World Team, he had to defeat 2012 Olympic champion and 2011 World bronze medalist Jake Varner for the top spot. He defeated Varner in the finals of the 2015 U.S. Open in Las Vegas, Nev. in May, 2-1. He later stopped Varner in two straight matches in the championship series of the U.S. World Team Trials in Madison, Wis. in June, 4-1 and 3-0.
Snyder won his match at the Beat the Streets Salsa in the Square in May over World bronze medalist Javier Cortina of Cuba, 4-0. Snyder also added a gold medal at the Brazil Cup in December.
In 2015, Snyder was a freshman at Ohio State, where he placed second at the 2015 NCAA Championships at 197 pounds and helped lead the Buckeyes to their first-ever NCAA Div. I team title.
Snyder had announced an Olympic redshirt year in 2015-16, but came out of redshirt in January 2016 and competed in the second semester. He won the 2016 NCAA Championships title at heavyweight for Ohio State.
He was a 2013 Junior World champion at the age of 17, and added a Junior World bronze medal in 2014.
Snyder is a native of Woodbine, Md. He was a Prep School National Champion for Our Lady of Good Counsel High School and finished with a 179-0 record. As a high school senior, he trained in freestyle full-time at the U.S. Olympic Training Center and did not compete in high school wrestling, getting his degree from Coronado High School.
The award is named in honor of two-time Olympic champion and four-time World champion John Smith.
PAST JOHN SMITH AWARD WINNERS AS FREESTYLE WRESTLER OF THE YEAR
2015 – Kyle Snyder, Woodbine, Md., Titan Mercury WC
2014 – Tervel Dlagnev, Columbus, Ohio, Sunkist Kids
2013 – Jordan Burroughs, Lincoln, Neb., Sunkist Kids
2012 – Jordan Burroughs, Lincoln, Neb., Sunkist Kids
2011 – Jordan Burroughs, Lincoln, Neb., Sunkist Kids
2010 – J.D. Bergman, Columbus, Ohio, New York AC
2009 – Jake Herbert, Evanston, Ill., New York AC
2008 – Henry Cejudo, Colorado Springs, Colo., Sunkist Kids
2007 – Daniel Cormier, Stillwater, Okla., Gator WC
2006 – Bill Zadick, Colorado Springs, Colo., Gator WC
2005 – Tolly Thompson, Cedar Falls, Iowa, Sunkist Kids
2004 – Cael Sanderson, Ames, Iowa, Sunkist Kids
2003 – Cael Sanderson, Ames, Iowa, Sunkist Kids
2002 – Joe Williams, Iowa City, Iowa, Sunkist Kids
2001 – Joe Williams, Iowa City, Iowa, Sunkist Kids
2000 – Brandon Slay, Amarillo, Texas, Dave Schultz WC
1999 – Stephen Neal, Bakersfield, Calif., Dave Schultz WC
1998 – Sammie Henson, Norman, Okla., Sunkist Kids
1997 – Les Gutches, Corvallis, Ore., Sunkist Kids
1996 – Kendall Cross, Raleigh, N.C., Sunkist Kids
1995 – Kevin Jackson, Phoenix, Ariz., Sunkist Kids
1994 – Melvin Douglas, Mesa, Ariz., Sunkist Kids
1993 – Terry and Tom Brands, Iowa City, Iowa, Team Foxcatcher
1992 – John Smith, Stillwater, Okla., Sunkist Kids