Kyle Snyder won a FILA Junior Nationals title at 96 kilos (Photo/Tony Rotundo, WrestlersAreWarriors.com)What if I were his coach? Would I have the integrity to tell him that there was nothing left for him to accomplish on the high school level, or would I not be able to resist advising him to stay around for another year to beat up opponents while wearing my singlet?
I hope I would do what was right for my boy. In Snyder's case, he got the right advice, and he has made the proper choice. After last season where he won all there was to win on the high school level in spectacular fashion, there was no need for him to stick around at Good Council High School in Olney, Md., any longer. A bigger stage was calling. He'll now spend his senior year of high school as a resident athlete at the Olympic Training Center in Colorado Springs. There he'll find opponents who will push him, coaches who can help him advance. (This is not a shot at any of Kyle's current or past coaches. Watching him wrestle it is crystal clear he has received top-flight coaching his entire life.)
Snyder, who won FILA Junior Nationals in freestyle a few weeks ago stands a good chance to make history and become the only high school-aged 96-kilo wrestler to represent the USA in the Junior World Championships ever. Granted, this weight is only a little more than a decade old, but a Junior World Team berth would place Snyder in rarefied air in terms of being so good and so big at such a young age.
Watching Snyder in high school, what impressed me most was his curve of improvement. This sport is littered with athletes who performed like prodigies at one age and then never progressed. Kyle, in his three-year high school career, has been a model for continued improvement. If his skills continue to progress at their current rate, the sky is the limit.
Snyder's potential frightens me, but it should frighten Ohio State head coach Tom Ryan even more. If Snyder continues to excel at the OTC and proves himself to be a legitimate 2016 Olympic hopeful, I would think he might find it wise to extend his stay in Colorado. I'm not saying that will happen, but it would be in the back of my mind if I were Coach Ryan. I remember another kid who spent his senior year of high school at the OTC, and he came back from Beijing with a gold medal.
Also, among all this Kyle Snyder hype, which I just took part in and which is justly deserved, we should take time to recognize future Missouri Tiger big man J'den Cox. Cox handed Snyder his only loss in any style (I believe) since middle school, last summer in the Junior National freestyle competition. This was one of those matches which served not to diminish our esteem of Snyder, but to really highlight the abilities of Cox, who is a fantastic pickup for Mizzou. I'm taking care to mention him because I figure if I were he, and I just read what I just wrote then I would say, "Hey, I beat that guy, why isn't he writing about me?" I think such a question is reasonable, so here I am devoting a little space to young Mr. Cox.
Tommy Rowlands shows up on a UFC broadcast
Ohio State's great heavyweight and former World Team member (where he got fifth) appeared on the prelims of the UFC 159: Sonnen vs. Jones broadcast on Saturday night, representing the Committee to Preserve Olympic Wrestling (CPOW). His appearance helped get word of Olympic wrestling's plight to an audience of millions, and there was a response immediately afterward as CPOW'S website crashed from an influx of traffic. UFC fans, who often deride wrestling for ruining the aesthetic of a sport they would like to closer resemble The Matrix than a real fight, were moved to, at the very least, type something into their web browser. Whether this will do anything to help save Olympic wrestling remains to be seen, but at least UFC president Dana White was nice enough to spare some time from his broadcast for the cause of Olympic wrestling.
Tommy Rowlands finished third at the 2012 Olympic Team Trials (Photo/Tony Rotundo, WrestlersAreWarriors.com)Now, I could spend a great deal of time wondering out loud about how Tommy's televised appeal will have any causal efficacy on the decisions made by the IOC executive board next month as they decide which sports they will forward to the IOC assembly for consideration for inclusion in the Olympic programme. I could, but I won't. At least until the executive board meets I am done complaining about FILA, and I won't complain about the actions taken by CPOW. There will be plenty of time for complaining and pointing fingers I the executive board sees fit to sever ties with the sport in May.
Right now, at least for the next few weeks, it is time to get on the bandwagon and try to cheer the team to a big win. So if you are one of those people whose job it is to protect the Olympic status of wrestling, right now I'm wishing you the best of luck and keeping you in my prayers.