Kyle Snyder named 2017 John Smith Award winner, as USA Wrestling’s Freestyle Wrestler of the Year

By Gary Abbott, USA Wrestling | June 13, 2018, 5:25 p.m. (ET)
USA Wrestling Executive Director Rich Bender, Kyle Snyder, John Smith and National Freestyle Coach Bill Zadick pose together as Snyder receives his award in Lincoln, Neb. during Final X. Photo by Tony Rotundo, Wrestlers Are Warriors.

Kyle Snyder (Woodbine, Md./Titan Mercury WC/Ohio RTC) has been named the winner of the 2017 John Smith Award as the Freestyle Wrestler of the Year by USA Wrestling.

It is the third straight year that Snyder has won this prestigious award, after also winning the 2015 and 2016 Freestyle Wrestler of the Year. Since the award was created, only two freestyle wrestlers have won the award three straight years, Snyder and Jordan Burroughs (2011-2013).

Snyder was the 2017 World champion at 97 kg in men's freestyle wrestling, winning his gold medal at the World Championships in Paris, France. In the championship finals, Snyder won what was dubbed within wrestling the “Match of the Century,” defeating Olympic champion and two-time World champion Abdulrashid Sadulaev of Russia in the World finals,

Snyder’s win gave the USA the World Team title over Russia by one team point, the first World Team title in freestyle wrestling for the USA in 22 years, going back to the 1995 World Championships in Atlanta, Ga.

It was the third straight World or Olympic gold medal for Snyder, who was a 2015 World champion and 2016 Olympic champion.

Internationally in 2017, Snyder won the Ivan Yarygin Grand Prix in Russia in January, the first U.S. men’s winner in that prestigious event since 2009. He also won gold medals at the Pan American Championships in Salvador, Brazil in May and the Grand Prix of Spain in Madrid, Spain in July.

Domestically, Snyder won the 2017 U.S. World Team Trials in June in Lincoln, Neb., defeating 2017 U.S. Open champion

Snyder was the first athlete to win an Olympic gold medal, then come back and win the NCAA Div. I Championships afterwards. That happened in 2017, when in his junior year at Ohio State, Snyder won his second NCAA Div. I title at heavyweight in St. Louis, Mo. in March.

During 2017, Snyder won the prestigious U.S. Male Olympic Athlete of the Year from the U.S. Olympic Committee, was named Ohio State Male Athlete of the Year and was also a Dan Hodge Trophy finalist.

Snyder is now a three-time NCAA champion and four-time finalist, after winning the NCAA heavyweight title as a senior for Ohio State in 2018 in Cleveland. His other NCAA titles came in 2016 and 2017. He was a 2015 NCAA Championships runner-up at 197 pounds as a freshman and helped lead the Buckeyes to their first-ever NCAA Div. I team title.

He was a 2013 Junior World champion at the age of 17, and added a Junior World bronze medal in 2014.

Snyder is a native of Woodbine, Md. He was a Prep School National Champion for Our Lady of Good Counsel High School and finished with a 179-0 record. As a high school senior, he trained in freestyle full-time at the U.S. Olympic Training Center and did not compete in high school wrestling, getting his degree from Coronado High School.

The award is named in honor of two-time Olympic champion and four-time World champion John Smith.

PAST JOHN SMITH AWARD WINNERS AS FREESTYLE WRESTLER OF THE YEAR
2017 – Kyle Snyder, Woodbine, Md., Titan Mercury WC
2016 – Kyle Snyder, Woodbine, Md., Titan Mercury WC
2015 – Kyle Snyder, Woodbine, Md., Titan Mercury WC
2014 – Tervel Dlagnev, Columbus, Ohio, Sunkist Kids
2013 - Jordan Burroughs, Lincoln, Neb., Sunkist Kids
2012 - Jordan Burroughs, Lincoln, Neb., Sunkist Kids
2011 – Jordan Burroughs, Lincoln, Neb., Sunkist Kids
2010 – J.D. Bergman, Columbus, Ohio, New York AC
2009 – Jake Herbert, Evanston, Ill., New York AC
2008 - Henry Cejudo, Colorado Springs, Colo., Sunkist Kids
2007 - Daniel Cormier, Stillwater, Okla., Gator WC
2006 - Bill Zadick, Colorado Springs, Colo., Gator WC
2005 - Tolly Thompson, Cedar Falls, Iowa, Sunkist Kids
2004 - Cael Sanderson, Ames, Iowa, Sunkist Kids
2003 - Cael Sanderson, Ames, Iowa, Sunkist Kids
2002 - Joe Williams, Iowa City, Iowa, Sunkist Kids
2001 - Joe Williams, Iowa City, Iowa, Sunkist Kids
2000 - Brandon Slay, Amarillo, Texas, Dave Schultz WC
1999 - Stephen Neal, Bakerfield, Calif., Dave Schultz WC
1998 - Sammie Henson, Norman, Okla., Sunkist Kids
1997 - Les Gutches, Corvallis, Ore., Sunkist Kids
1996 - Kendall Cross, Raleigh, N.C., Sunkist Kids
1995 - Kevin Jackson, Phoenix, Ariz., Sunkist Kids
1994 - Melvin Douglas, Mesa, Ariz., Sunkist Kids
1993 - Terry and Tom Brands, Iowa City, Iowa, Team Foxcatcher
1992 - John Smith, Stillwater, Okla., Sunkist Kids