Our Lady of Good Counsel High School rising junior Kyle Snyder is very blunt and confident in how he expects to perform on the wrestling mat.
“I want to dominate,” the two-time Gazette Wrestler of the Year said during an interview at the Olney school last week. “My goal has always been to win and be the best. I expect to and everything I've worked on is to succeed.”
The 16-year-old has good reason to display such poise. He owns a perfect high school record of 116-0 and has never been taken down in a high school match. Flowrestling.org ranks Snyder as the No. 3 pound-for-pound high school grappler in the country. He's also won the 2011 freestyle and 2012 Greco Roman competitions at USA Wrestling's junior and cadet national championships in Fargo, N.D. (The tournament includes Greco Roman and freestyle wrestling disciplines, as opposed to the more mainstream folkstyle, which is used in high school and collegiate competitions).
“Folkstyle is my home,” Snyder said. “I like it the best because it is what I've grown up with. I'm just learning Greco and freestyle.”
So with an impressive wrestling resume, Snyder decided to become a one-sport athlete. After discussing the change with his father last winter, the 5-foot-11, 220-pound Woodbine resident gave up football, his childhood passion since first grade, with little regret.
“I absolutely love everything about wrestling,” said Snyder, who started at nose guard last fall for the nationally-ranked Falcons football program. “I love training and all the sacrifices. I just don't only love the competition. With football, I enjoyed the games and the guys on the team, but it just wasn't that fun anymore.”
Snyder's success is no accident. His grandfather, Fred Snyder, wrestled in high school and his father, Steve, played football at Towson University in the late 1980s. Both encouraged the Carroll County resident to wrestle, and he began at age 5.
Kyle Snyder's youth wrestling tenure took off as a Howard County Warhawk. At age 12, as his older brother Stephen, currently a heavyweight at Army, started wrestling for the Falcons and Snyder became a regular in the high school practice room.
“He's so driven, so motivated and he knows exactly what he needs to do,” Good Counsel coach Skylar Saar said. “The Olympics are going on right now and I imagine we will see him there in a few years. I know that is on his list.”
Even with all the accolades, Snyder remains a vigilant worker and teacher for his teammates. He trains five days per week and is constantly watching wrestling matches online or on television.
“Every match, whether it is at Fargo or in the WCAC, I always learn something about myself,” said Snyder, who is in the midst of a self-imposed month-long break from the mat. He still is lifting, running and consuming a lot of protein daily. “I'm really comfortable on my feet and on bottom, but my top game is just mediocre. There are so many little things I got to get better with.”
In two years, due to his talent and success, he likely will receive a full athletic scholarship; a rarity in college wrestling since Division I programs are only allowed a maximum of 9.9 scholarships for a roster that often is three times larger. Snyder, who plans to drop to 197 pounds in college, has a list of six dream schools, including Oklahoma, Ohio State, Army, Virginia Tech, Maryland and Penn State, where Cael Sanderson, a 2004 Olympic champion and the only Division I wrestler to go undefeated, coaches.
“I still have a lot of goals left,” Snyder said. “I want to finish high school and college unbeaten and win a gold medal in the Olympics. I don't think I'll be able to truly reflect until I am done, but at the same time, every wrestler should take some time out of their day and appreciate how hard they've worked.”