Final X Preview: Kyle Snyder vs. Kyven Gadson, 97 kg men’s freestyle

By Taylor Miller, USA Wrestling | June 05, 2018, 6:32 p.m. (ET)

Photo: Snyder image by Tony Rotundo, WrestlersAreWarriors.com. Gadson image by Stephen Alvarado, UWW.

Who: Kyle Snyder vs. Kyven Gadson
What: Final X
Where: Lincoln, Neb.
When: June 9
Why: Men’s freestyle World Team spot at 97 kg
Tickets: FinalX.tv

Kyle Snyder
How he got to Final X:
Snyder is a returning World medalist at the weight, winning the 2017 World Championships at 97 kg last August in Paris, France.

Background:
Over the last few years, Kyle Snyder has become one of the most feared wrestlers in the world, winning gold medals in his only three appearances at the Senior World and Olympic level.

At just 19 year old, Snyder became the youngest American ever to win a World title in wrestling, claiming gold over reigning World champion Abdulsalem Gadisov of Russia with a decision on criteria at the 2015 Worlds in Las Vegas, which was just months after Snyder lost in his first appearance in the NCAA finals as a freshman.

The very next year, Snyder beat out 2012 Olympic champion Jake Varner for a spot on the 2016 Olympic Team. In Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, Snyder ran through the 97 kg bracket against and met up with four-time World medalist and two-time Olympic bronze medalist Khetag Goziumov of Azerbaijan. Snyder walked away with a 2-1 win and continued to add to his legacy, becoming the youngest American wrestler to win an Olympic title.

In 2017, all eyes were on the defending 97 kg World and Olympic champion Snyder as it was discovered that Russia’s Abdulrashid Sadulaev, the 2015 World and 2016 Olympic champion at 86 kg, would move up to Snyder’s weight. The wrestling community worldwide buzzed with the potential for “The Match of the Century,” as it was deemed.

On separate sides of the bracket, both wrestlers advanced to the finals and were scheduled as the night’s finale. Not only were they wrestling for another individual World championships but also the team title was on the line. With less than a minute left, Sadulaev led Snyder 5-3, but Snyder was resilient, scoring a step out and takedown in the final 40 seconds for a 6-5 win and the World title.

So far this year, Snyder won his second-consecutive Ivan Yarygin Memorial gold medal, went unbeaten at the Freestyle World Cup and won his match at the Beat the Streets Benefit in NYC.

Additionally, Snyder owns a Junior World gold from 2013 and a Junior World bronze from 2014.

Nationally, he has become recognized as one of Team USA’s best athletes, winning the 2017 USOC Male Olympic Athlete of the Year and the 2018 AAU Sullivan Award.

Snyder’s World Championship experience:
2013 Junior World Championships in Sofia, Bulgaria - GOLD
2014 Junior World Championships in Zagreb, Croatia – BRONZE
2015 Senior World Championships in Las Vegas, USA – GOLD
2016 Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil – GOLD
2017 Senior World Championships in Paris, France – GOLD

Kyven Gadson
How he got to Final X:
Gadson defeated U.S. Open champion Austin Schafer in the finals of the World Team Trials Challenge Tournament in Rochester, Minn., in May to advance to Final X.

Background:
Kyven Gadson has advanced to the World Team Trials finals for the second year in a row. A 2015 NCAA champion and three-time All-American for Iowa State, Gadson transitioned well onto the freestyle scene, starting with a 2016 University Nationals title and a third-place finish at the U.S. Open.

Since then, he has proved himself as one of the best guys on the national ladder. He claimed a 2017 U.S. Open championship, along with five international medals. All that’s left for him to accomplish on the national level is to make a U.S. World Team, and the only person standing in his way is Kyle Snyder, who he will face on June 9 in Lincoln, Neb., for the World Team spot at 97 kg. The two met up in the finals of the 2017 World Team Trials, with Snyder winning by a pair of technical falls.

Earlier this spring after finishing third at the 2018 U.S. Open in April, Gadson went on to the World Team Trials Challenge Tournament in Rochester, Minn. There he sailed to the best-of-three finals series, taking out Blaize Cabell and U23 World bronze medalist Ty Walz to advance. In the finals waiting for him was Austin Schafer, who claimed a quarterfinals win over Gadson at the U.S. Open to earn the automatic bid to the best-of-three series. Gadson avenged his loss, defeating Schafer, 8-1, in the first bout, before Schafer medical forfeited out from an apparent ankle injury.

Internationally this year, Gadson finished second at the Ion Corneanu & Ladislau Simon Memorial, won the Henri Deglane Challenge and helped the U.S. to a first-place team finish, winning a match at the 2018 World Cup in Iowa City. Most recently, Gadson produced a silver-medal finish at the 2018 Pan American Championships in Lima, Peru.

Gadson’s World Championship experience:
None

Notes:

  • Snyder and Gadson have met up four times in their careers, twice in folkstyle and twice in freestyle. They split the series 2-2 with Gadson taking the folkstyle wins and Snyder taking the freestyle wins.
  • When they meet up on Saturday, it will be exactly 364 days since they last wrestled each other, which was also in Lincoln, Neb., in the 2017 Senior World Team Trials finals.
  • When Gadson was a senior at Iowa State, he defeated Snyder in the 2014 NCAA finals at 197 lbs. for his first national title. Snyder went on to win NCAA titles in 2015, 2016 and 2017 at heavyweight.
  • The last Cyclone to be on the U.S. World or Olympic Team was Jake Varner, who made the 2012 Olympic Team and won an Olympic title. He also claimed a World bronze medal in 2011.
  • In addition to Snyder, there are two other Buckeyes who advanced to Final X, including Joey McKenna and Logan Stieber. They will wrestle each other for the World Team spot at 65 kg.
  • Follow Snyder on Instagram @snyderman45 and on Twitter @snyder_man45.
  • Follow Gadson on Instagram and Twitter @gadsonstrong.

97 kg/213 lbs. MEN

Kyle Snyder, Columbus, Ohio (Titan Mercury WC/Ohio RTC)
College: Ohio State High School: Olney, Md. (Our Lady of Good Counsel), Colorado Springs, Colo. (Coronado) Born: Nov. 20, 1995
• 2016 Olympic champion
• Two-time World Champion (2015, 2017)
• 2013 Junior World Champion
• Third in 2014 Junior World Championships
• Two-time Ivan Yarygin Grand Prix champion (2017, 2018)
• 2015 Pan American Games champion
• 2017 Pan American Championships champion
• 2016 and 2018 World Cup champion
• 2015 U.S. Open champion
• Three-time NCAA champion for Ohio State (2016-18)

Kyven Gadson, Ames, Iowa (Sunkist Kids/Cyclone RTC)
College: Iowa State High School: Waterloo, Iowa (East) Born: July 9, 1992
• 2018 World Team Trials Challenge Tournament champion
• 2017 U.S. Open champion
• Second in 2017 U.S. World Team Trials
• 2016 University Nationals champion
• Third in 2016 and 2018 U.S. Open
• Third in 2017 Dave Schultz Memorial International
• Third in 2017 Cerro Pelado International
• 2015 NCAA champion for Iowa State
• Three-time NCAA All-American
• Three-time Big 12 champion