Kyle Snyder has won two world championships and an Olympic gold medal in wrestling, and a few months ago, when he defeated Abdulrashid Sadulaev for the world championships in Paris, France, he was talked about as being the best pound-for-pound wrestler in the world.
But a few weeks back in collegiate wrestling, Snyder, who competes on the world stage at 213 pounds and in collegiate wrestling at 235, was in a situation where pound-for-pound didn’t matter. Matt Coon of Michigan, at 6-foot-5, who cuts weight to make 285 pounds, defeated Snyder in a dual meet, although Snyder won a double overtime win two weeks ago in their rematch at the Big 10 finals.
Aside from those two matches, neither man has lost this season.
Snyder vs. Coon was announced last night as the main event for tonight’s NCAA wrestling finals, to no surprise, even with Zahid Valencia and Mark Hall at 174 going into the finals unbeaten.
After both, as expected, went through the toughest heavyweights in college wrestling, they will meet in the main event tonight at the Quicken Loans Arena in Cleveland in what will be one of the three biggest heavyweight collegiate matches of all-time.
If that sounds vaguely familiar, it’s because two years ago, Snyder’s win over the much larger Nick Gwiazdowski was talked about ahead of time, and even more after, as the greatest heavyweight final of all-time. Prior to that, the most talked about final involved two future pro wrestling world champions, when Verne Gagne defeated Dick Hutton, handing the Oklahoma A&M star his only collegiate loss.
Tonight will be Snyder’s last collegiate match, as he attempts to become only the fifth three-time NCAA Division I heavyweight champion in history, joining pro wrestling Hall of Famer Earl McCready (1928-1930), Hutton (1947, 1949, 1950), Jimmie Jackson (1976-78), and Carleton Haselrig (1987-89). McCready was an international superstar, considered the best Canadian heavyweight of all-time, and was a main eventer for decades all over the world, from Europe to Australia and all points in between. Hutton was an NWA champion from 1957-59, at the time when it was pro wrestling’s biggest title. Jackson briefly did pro wrestling, while Haselrig ended up as an NFL star, and in his 40s, went into MMA.
With a big showing last night, and sending five men to the finals, Penn State now leads Ohio State 120.5 pounds to 109 in going for the team title.
Besides Snyder, two others, Zain Retherford of Penn State at 149 and Isaiah Martinez of Illinois at 165, both undefeated, are also going for their third NCAA title.
Tonights’ finals air live at 8 p.m. Eastern on ESPN 2:
125 — Spencer Lee (Iowa, 25-2) vs. Nick Suriano (Penn State, 29-0)
133 — Seth Gross (South Dakota State, 32-1) vs.; Stevan Micic (Michigan, 30-2)
141 — Bryce Meredith (Wyoming, 378-1) vs. Yianni Diakomihalis (Cornell, 37-1)
149 — Zain Retherford (Penn State, 34-0) vs. Ronald Perry (Lock Haven 36-3)
157 — Hayden Hidlay (North Carolina State, 30-0) vs. Jason Nolf (Penn State 29-1)
165 — Isaiah Martinez (Illinois, 22-0) vs. Vincenzo Joseph (Penn State 27-3)
174 — Zahid Valencia (Arizona State, 35-0) vs. Mark Hall (Penn State 36-0)
184 — Bo Nickal (Penn State, 34-0) vs. Myles Martin (Ohio State 35-2)
197 — Jared Haught (Virginia Tech, 34-2) vs. Michael Macchiavello (North Carolina State 25-3)
285 – Kyle Snyder (Ohio State, 20-1) vs. Adam Coon (Michigan, 33-1)