Ohio State junior Kyle Snyder, sophomore Myles Martin and coach Tom Ryan talk about Snyder's homecoming match at his alma mater, Good Counsel, in a dual meet victory over Maryland on Sunday, Jan. 22, 2017. (Tim Schwartz/Baltimore Sun video)
OLNEY — Kyle Snyder never truly had a chance to say goodbye to Good Counsel. He went 179-0 in his first three seasons at the Olney high school but left before his senior year in 2013 to train at the U.S. Olympic Training Center in Colorado.
On Sunday, the Olympic gold medalist and Woodbine native finally got a chance to wear a singlet in his high school gym one last time, as Ohio State hosted Maryland in a Big Ten Conference wrestling match before an announced sellout crowd of over 1,200.
"It's pretty cool being able to come back and wrestle in this gym for probably, I would think, the last time in my wrestling career," said Snyder, who won an NCAA championship last year for the Buckeyes before winning gold in Rio de Janeiro in August. "I have a lot of great memories here and I know this means a lot."
Snyder, who had about 50 family members in attendance, received a standing ovation before the No. 4 Buckeyes defeated the Terps, 30-12, to remain undefeated in duals and Big Ten competition. Snyder, a junior, wrestled in the final match of the afternoon and defeated Maryland sophomore Youssif Hemida via technical fall, 22-7, in a heavyweight bout to improve to 6-0 on the season.
"It was kind of putting a bow on it," Good Counsel coach Skylar Saar said. "Once he found out he was going to the Olympic Training Center for his senior year, he had to go. ... This kind of puts a bow on it, and it was a cool experience."
Terps grapplers Jhared Simmons (141 pounds) and Adam Whitesell (149) also were competing at their alma mater. Whitesell, a redshirt sophomore, won by fall for the team's only victory; Maryland junior Michael Beck (River Hill) won his 125-pound match by forfeit.
It was also a homecoming of sorts for Ohio State sophomore Myles Martin (McDonogh) and Terps redshirt freshman Sam Rowell (Mount Saint Joseph), who happened to square off in the 184-pound match. Martin, who last year became just the 15th true freshman to win an NCAA title, took the match, 16-6, to improve to 20-3 this season.
Both Martin and Rowell, however, said the day was all about Snyder.
"It was all for Kyle, and the fans loved it," said Martin, who added that his own father bought more than 100 tickets for friends and family. Synder "approached the match just like he does for every match. He walked out, he embraced everything, felt the vibes in the room. He knew everyone was on his side."
Said Rowell: "Coming in, I didn't really know what to expect. It was an amazing experience. I've never been to a high school gym that's this packed. It's a little bit unreal. [Snyder] goes out in the middle and raises his hand, and you don't get to be around very many people who have won Olympic gold. I definitely look up to him, and that's the goal, to be where he's at."
Snyder said Buckeyes coach Tom Ryan promised him when he committed that he would get a chance to compete in his high school gym again. Ryan said the 6 1/2-hour trip is the farthest his team has ever traveled for a home dual but that it was worth it to see the community's love and respect for Snyder.
"It was great to see Kyle come home and to be able to share his gift [a few] years removed from high school with so many people who have made a difference in his life along the way," he said. "I think it was a proud moment for the community that they helped raise this young man that has made a difference in so many lives."
In true Snyder fashion, he put on a show. He took Hemida down nine times to build an 18-4 lead. The crowd rose to its feet as Snyder locked up a cradle and almost pinned Hemida early in the third period, though he had to settle for four near-fall points, which secured the technical-fall victory.
After the match, Snyder grabbed the microphone from Comcast SportsNet's Chick Hernandez, thanked the fans for showing up and apologized for having to leave in a hurry. He had to catch a plane to Russia for an international event.
"Pretty cool opportunity that not a lot of college athletes get to have," he told the crowd. "So thank you, guys, very much. I see a lot of faces that I know that I haven't seen in a while. You guys look good. Thank you. I appreciate it."