In maybe the biggest move by an Olympic and World gold medalist wrestler ever Kyle Sndyer is leaving the Ohio RTC for the Nittany Lion RTC. It is a move that will only escalate the broader wrestling war between the two states despite Kyle Snyder’s long and detailed announcement. I have written in the past two years that you could see Snyder not improving and, in fact, maybe stagnating. No doubt that Happy Valley has a ton of talent in the big guy part of the scale and is the home of the best wrestling minds in the country. Big names have transferred at the college level, e.g Nick Suriano, but the schools aren’t really rivals. Steve Mocco, Iowa to Oklahoma State is the only one that I can think of at a similar level but that was 15 years ago pre-social media and Flo wrestling.
Why is Snyder really leaving? I think that it goes back to the departure of Lou Rosselli for Oklahoma just over 3 years ago. He was the freestyle master mind behind the rise of the Ohio RTC. He was focused on Freestyle and was very talented. The last two world cycles you could see Snyder didn’t appear prepared. He appeared to have become less athletic physically and a bit one dimensional on the mat. Snyder finished 3rd a couple of weeks ago and that was his lowest placement at the World & Olympic Championships ever at the senior level. He won a silver in 2018 and gold in 2017 and 2015. While still in college at Ohio State when he was 19 years old, he made history in 2015 becoming the youngest American wrestler to win a world title, and then becoming the youngest wrestler to win an Olympic title when he was 20. This is on top of a highly successful NCAA wrestling career,
Snyder was a three-time NCAA champion in 2016, 2017 and 2018.
So, if you’re the Ohio State and Ohio RTC it’s hard to lose the face of the programs. That said, he leaves a serious legacy behind for Ohio. The real question is, can Tervel Dlagnev evolve himself and the Ohio RTC? I don’t think that they have the coaching or athletic depth. In my humble opinion the loss of Rosselli hasn’t been addressed and the other staff at the RTC are fine but not world level coaches. Dare I say that some are over rated as senior level coaches. The strength coach has a great reputation but it’s fairly easy to see with Snyder his loss of athleticism over the last few years. Go ahead -look back at the video from the last 5 years and you can see it plain as day. How this isn’t more widely talked about is a mystery to me. Flo and other media outlets might not want to insult the schools that they cover. I’m sure that this was hard for Tom Ryan. He has firmly cemented Ohio State as the second-best place in the country to wrestle at the D1 level. Are they the second-best place to wrestle at a senior level too? Right now the NJRTC is crushing it. Let’s watch the Olympic cycle play out.
There were rumors that Snyder was going to leave the Ohio RTC prior to the world championships and join Brandon Slay at the PA RTC. Maybe going to the Wharton School of Business. Well, that didn’t happen. For wrestling reasons, I didn’t see this making sense. The PA RTC has no really big guys to work with.
So that brings us back to Cael & Co. in Happy Valley. Snyder has worked out in the NLWC many times before and must have felt the difference, in the coaching and the partners. So Kyle admitted that Bo Nickal was right even at the senior level. If you’re an upper weight high school recruit how can you not look at the Penn State room and not just be overwhelmed with the stock pile of coach and senior level talent. Besides that, American talent, lots of the worlds great wrestlers visit State College to learn and contribute. I know that this happens at other schools but they don’t have their depth of talent. So, the Penn State brain trust solidifies their reputation as the most influential minds in the sport at any level outside of Dagestan. They can seemingly supply the best coaching and training partner talent in American.
Why should wrestling fans be happy about this? A couple of years ago I thought that Snyder would pass Burroughs and maybe John Smith as the best American senior level wrestler. Beating Abdulrashid Sadulaev 3 years ago could have been the launching event to make him an international all-time great. Then the last two world championships happened. If America has the best version of Snyder for the Olympic games in 2020 it gives Team USA a real boost in the team race and puts Snyder back on the ladder climbing the list of American greats. Wrestling fans should look forward to seeing the best version of Captain America.
Aside from this being a benefit to American wrestling, I love the fact that the Penn State/NLWC leadership are so publicly quiet. I’m sure that they have their reasons but I see it as an obvious contradiction to popular culture’s “look at me” crap just as wrestling ignores that we’re in the midst of the least masculine culture in history.