When a wrester has accomplished everything before the age of 20, what keeps them motivated?
Kyle Snyder chuckles slightly when asked that question. It’s one he must get often.
“I like the competitive aspect of it,” Snyder says, taking a brief break at a recent practice. “I like coming into practice and learning new technique and challenging my body, both mentally and physically.”
In 2016, at the age of 20, Snyder assumed his spot on American wrestling’s Mount Rushmore when he won gold in the heavyweight division at the Rio Olympics. That made him the youngest American wrestler ever to win Olympic gold.
Now a 22-year-old college senior at The Ohio State University with two NCAA titles and a world championship under his belt, Snyder continues to dominate. He’s once again the NCAA’s top-ranked heavyweight and the runaway favorite to win a third title in March.
Despite the success, Snyder is exceptionally friendly, both with the media and his teammates. Friendly, but still confident.
Does he consider himself the best pound-for-pound wrestler in the world?
“Yes, I do think I’m the best,” Snyder says. “Not in an arrogant way, but I think through my matches and the guys I’ve competed against, I think I’ve proved it.”
He’s proven his abilities since the first time he stepped onto a high school wrestling mat. At Our Lady of Good Counsel High School in Woodbine, Md., Snyder never lost a single match, finishing three seasons with a 179- 0 record.
He skipped his senior season to start wrestling internationally, where he immediately dominated. In 2013, he became the youngest American in over 20 years to win a FILA Junior World championship.
When asked if he enjoys the notoriety in a sport that usually flies under the radar, Snyder said, “Yeah, it’s cool.”
“It’s good because I get to talk about the things that I think can help people in wrestling, other sports, and in life,” he says.
Wrestling fans who want to get a glimpse of the one of the best college wrestlers ever will need to hurry. Ohio State has just five regular season matches left. Those are followed by the Big Ten Championships in East Lansing, Mich., then the NCAA Championships in Cleveland from March 15-17.