CLEVELAND — Kyle Snyder completed his legendary career in style.
The only thing missing was a chance to win a team championship for the Ohio State Buckeyes.
Snyder got a late takedown of Michigan’s Adam Coon for a 3-2 victory in the heavyweight division Saturday night in the NCAA wrestling championships at Quicken Loans Arena. It was his third NCAA championship.
But he was hoping to help deliver the Buckeyes their second-ever team title. But that opportunity ended when Penn State’s Bo Nickal pinned Ohio State’s Myles Martin late in the first period of their 184-pound match to clinch the team title for the Nittany Lions, their seventh in eight years.
“Coon is real big, real strong,” said Snyder, who lost to him in a dual match this season before winning at the Big Ten championships. “He's a very good wrestler. He's had a great career. And he's a really good guy.
“In the match, it was a lot of me holding him off, trying to kind of pick and choose my shots and time them strategically.”
With about 30 seconds left, Coon attempted a takedown and Snyder quickly countered.
“I was surprised that he shot at that point,” Snyder said. “I wasn't expecting that. I was expecting me to go underneath of him, and I was about to try to set a couple of things up because I knew there was only 30 seconds left.
"But he took the shot when I had my underhook and kind of extended himself. So I was able to throw him by, and there wasn't much time after that.”
If only the match had decided the team title. Penn State had 141.5 points. Ohio State finished with 134.5.
“It was an amazing race,” Snyder said. “It would have been awesome to end my career at Ohio State with a team title. I still believe we have an amazing team.”
The Buckeyes began the night ahead of Penn State by six points. But the Nittany Lions had five finalists while the Buckeyes had only Martin and Snyder.
Penn State’s first three wrestlers won, but Mark Hall lost at 174 pounds to open the door for Ohio State, which needed both Martin and Snyder to win to overtake the Nittany Lions.
But Nickal pinned Martin to clinch the team title for the Nittany Lions. Martin took a 2-0 lead with a takedown before Nickol got an immediate reversal and then the pin with 30 seconds left in the first period.
Martin had defeated Nickal in the 174 NCAA finals two years ago, but Nickal had won most of their matches since then.
Ohio State’s struggles in the semifinals on Saturday left them little margin for error later in the day.
“I said at the start of this thing that this will be the most points scored for any second-place team in the history of the sport,” OSU coach Tom Ryan said Saturday morning. “I was hoping it wasn’t us, and hopefully it holds true.”
Ryan said this after the morning consolation session, when his Buckeyes opened their six-point lead on Penn State, and he was right about the runner-up’s score. But he sensed then that it wouldn’t be a big enough margin to sustain through the evening’s finals matches.
The Buckeyes can take solace in the fact that they set a school record for the NCAA tournament. The Buckeyes had only 102 points when they won their only NCAA title in 2015 and had 110 last year while finishing second to Penn State.
The previous record for a runner-up was 125.5 points by Iowa in 2001. Ohio State had hoped to use its depth — eight Buckeyes finished in the top eight to earn All-American status — to run up a large enough margin to withstand the expected finals victories by Penn State.
But it wasn’t to be. Nathan Tomasello (125) pounds and Joey McKenna (141) won both of their morning consolation-bracket matches to finish third, but not enough of the other Buckeyes delivered.
“There were a lot of points on the board this morning, and we lost a lot of tough ones,” Ryan said.
For Tomasello, it was the third straight year that he finished third. He won the NCAA title as a redshirt freshman.
He started the morning with a pin — his second of the tournament — to give the Buckeyes needed bonus points.
“That was one of the main motivational factors, knowing we’re still in the team race and coming back and winning the last two matches and getting as many points as I could for the team,” Tomasello said. “
He then won a rugged third-place match in overtime over Minnesota’s Ethan Lizak, earning a standing ovation for the Parma native. It was a nice rebound from a decisive loss to Iowa’s Spencer Lee in Friday’s semifinal.
“Spencer just beat me,” Tomasello said. “He was a better wrestler that night and I give him a lot of props. But I felt that overall (in the tournament), I wrestled really hard and gave it my all I could. I don’t feel I have much regrets at all.”