Kyle Snyder returns to mat lifts Ohio State wrestling team to victory

OSU then-freshman Kyle Snyder celebrates a defeat of a top-10 opponent against Minnesota. Credit: Lantern file photoWith only one match remaining between the No. 11 Ohio State wrestling team and Nebraska, the score was knotted at 17. The Buckeyes were trying to avenge their loss to Michigan on Jan. 9, and, by extension, a further drop down the rankings. But then Kyle Snyder took the mat. In his season debut after deciding to forgo his previous plans to take an Olympic redshirt, the sophomore shook off a slow start to his match to eventually pull away from Colin Jensen in the 285-pound class. In the end, the recently crowned World Champion won by a 20-9 major decision to put the Buckeyes over the top, giving OSU a 21-17 victory.“Couldn’t be a better scenario for myself,” Snyder said. “It was exciting, fun, and being able to compete allows me to see what I need to get better at.”Before the match, a banner commemorating Snyder’s recent championship was unveiled in St. John Arena.“Seeing my banner lowered was pretty awesome because I didn’t know that was happening until Wednesday,” Snyder said.For the Scarlet and Gray, the victory is their second in the last four matchups with Nebraska. Snyder’s emergence into the lineup was just one of four changes to the lineup OSU has used in recent weeks. There were three changes, excluding Snyder’s addition, to the projected lineups from earlier this week. “We knew we weren’t going to have (redshirt senior) Hunter (Stieber), we knew we weren’t going to have (redshirt sophomore) Bo (Jordan), we knew we weren’t going to have (senior) Mark (Martin),” OSU coach Tom Ryan said. The 165-pound weight class match was ultimately forfeited in the absence of Jordan.Sophomore Sal Marandino filled in for Stieber in the 149-pound class, while redshirt junior Josh Fox took the mat in Martin’s place at 197 pounds. Both of the matches that featured substitute wrestlers resulted in losses for the Buckeyes, along with the forfeiture due to Jordan not competing. But even so, Ryan spoke volumes about the toughness and grit of his team. “Sal Marandino fought off a tough kid,” Ryan said. “Josh Fox… (Nebraska’s Aaron Studebaker) was in overtime last week against the No.1 ranked kid in the country.” Ryan also noted that the reasons behind the absences are not serious in nature.“(Jordan has) just got a pulled muscle,” Ryan said. “(Stieber) had the flu.”The first three matchups saw OSU commanding the mat early, tallying victories in the 125-, 133- and 141-pound weight classes.  The action started off with redshirt sophomore Nathan Tomasello (125). He capitalized early against his opponent, junior Tim Lambert, with seven takedowns, the first of which came within seconds of match’s start.With the win, Tomasello improved to 12-0 on the year. Johnni DiJulius was next up in the 133-pound class, where he squared off against junior Eric Montoya.The redshirt senior earned a 9-4 win, even after Montoya roared back with two takedowns in the last 30 seconds.After a decisive 13-4 victory for redshirt freshman Micah Jordan against senior Anthony Abidin, Nebraska picked up a win at the 149-pound class with Jake Sueflohn.Sueflohn got out to an early lead with a takedown, and never looked back, winning 21-5.After a thrilling overtime period, Jake Ryan earned a 6-4 victory in the 157-pound class over redshirt freshman Tyler Berger.A two-point reversal and two-point near-fall by the OSU redshirt freshman made all the difference in the match.After a Buckeye forfeit at 165, Myles Martin gave the Scarlet and Gray a 17-11 advantage with a 7-4 decision against 14th ranked Micah Barnes. This was the true freshman’s 20th win this season. Next up, OSU’s redshirt senior Kenny Court dropped a decision to TJ Dudley in the 184-pound class, 7-1. Dudley is currently No. 5 in the nation in his respective weight class.Immediately following was the 197-pound matchup, featuring the redshirt junior Fox filling in for Mark Martin.Fox faced the aforementioned Studebaker in a mostly defensive match-up. Despite fighting valiantly, Fox ultimately fell by a 4-0 decision. Entering the final matchup, the teams were deadlocked at 17-17 before Snyder made his return in near-storybook fashion.It wasn’t until earlier in the meet that it was announced that redshirt junior heavyweight Nick Tavanello would not be representing OSU in the match against Jensen. Instead, Snyder returned to the mat, shook off early rust and secured the Buckeyes’ victory. Along with the unveiling of Snyder’s championship banner, there was a moment of silent for the recent passing of longtime OSU coach Chris Ford. Also, the dual meet was Military Appreciation Night, where former OSU wrestler Ray Mendoza was honored at intermission. Following the win, the Buckeyes are set to face Michigan State next Sunday at Walsh Jesuit High School near Cleveland.