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Wrestler Kyle Snyder of Woodbine wins AAU Sullivan Award as nation's top amateur athlete

The Baltimore Sun

2016 Olympic champion and two-time world champion Kyle Snyder of Woodbine won the 2018 AAU Sullivan Award in ceremonies at the New York Athletic Club on Tuesday night.

The Good Counsel alumnus is the fourth wrestler to win this honor, joining other Olympic champions John Smith (1990), Bruce Baumgartner (1995) and Rulon Gardner (2000).

The AAU Sullivan Award has been presented annually since 1930 to the most outstanding amateur athlete in the United States.

Snyder was finalist last year.

The other finalists this year were Annika Albrecht (women’s volleyball), Joel Berry II (men’s basketball) , Erin Finn (track and field) , Kelly Hunter (women’s volleyball), Angela “Annie” Peavy (para-equestrian) and Alex & Maia Shibutani (figure skating).

“This is a great award. I have been blessed in my life and my career. There is nothing I love more than wrestling,” Snyder said during an acceptance speech that was streamed live by the AAU.

Snyder told USA Wrestling after the awards banquet: "I was excited. It is a great award. Some of the best athletes that ever walked this earth have been finalists and won this award. It was great to get to know the other seven finalists and learn about the history of this award.”

Snyder was the 2017 world champion at 97 kg in men's freestyle wrestling and won what was dubbed within wrestling as the “Match of the Century,” defeating Olympic champion and two-time World champion Abdulrashid Sadulaev of Russia in the world finals.

His win gave the United States the world team title over Russia by one team point, the first world team title in freestyle wrestling for the United States in 22 years.

Also last year, Snyder won the Ivan Yarygin Grand Prix in Russia, becoming the first U.S. men’s winner in that event since 2009. He also won gold medals at the Pan American Championships and the Grand Prix of Spain.

Domestically, he won both the U.S. Senior Open and the U.S. World Team Trials.

As a junior last year at Ohio State, Snyder he won his second NCAA Division I title at heavyweight, making him a three-time NCAA finalist.

Snyder was the first athlete to win an Olympic gold medal, then come back and win the NCAA Division I championships afterward.

Snyder is the second Ohio State athlete to receive the honor in the past four years, joining current NFL star Ezekiel Elliott (2014).

Past winners with Maryland ties include former Navy quarterback Keenan Reynolds (2016), former Penn State and Ravens offensive lineman John Urschel (2013), Baltimore-area Paralympic swimmer Jessica Long (2006) and Baltimore-area Olympic swimming star Michael Phelps (2003).

Other winners include Bobby Jones (1930), Bob Mathias (1948), Rafer Johnson (1960), Wilma Rudolph (1961), Bill Bradley (1965), Jim Ryun (1966), Mark Spitz (1970), Frank Shorter (1972), Bill Walton (1973), John Naber (1977), Tracy Caulkins (1978), Kurt Thomas (1979), Eric Heiden (1980), Carl Lewis (1981), Mary Decker (1982), Edwin Moses (1983), Greg Louganis (1984), Jackie Joyner-Kersee (1986), Jim Abbott (1987), Florence Griffith-Joyner (1988), Janet Evans (1989), Bonnie Blair (1992), Charlie Ward (1993), Peyton Manning (1997), Michelle Kwan (2001), JJ Redick (2006), Tim Tebow (2007), Shawn Johnson (2008) and Missy Franklin (2012).

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