For six minutes and 35 seconds of their NCAA heavyweight finals Saturday at Cleveland’s Quicken Loans Arena, Kyle Snyder and Adam Coon mostly pressed against each other like two bears locked in careful combat.
Except one of the bears outweighed the other by 60 pounds.
Snyder, who wrestles internationally at 213 pounds, is used to being much lighter than his opponents. Usually, his ridiculous strength, conditioning, will and quickness make that irrelevant.
But Coon is different. The Michigan senior major has the skill and strength to make the Ohio State wrestler’s final match anything but a formality. After all, Coon had handed Snyder his first collegiate loss in three years before the Buckeye won in double overtime at the Big Ten championships.
Until 25 seconds remained Saturday, their final match looked destined to go to overtime as well. Then Coon made a fateful move. He went for a takedown. But Snyder countered, using Coon’s movement against him to put him on the mat. In the blink of an eye, Snyder had the only takedown he would need.
>> Join the conversation at Facebook.com/BuckeyeXtra and connect with us on Twitter @BuckeyeXtra
The final seconds ticked off a 3-2 victory, and Snyder wagged his index finger, raised his fist and then threw his headgear toward the roaring crowd.
“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.”
It was Snyder’s third straight NCAA title, to go along with his 2016 Olympic gold medal and two world championships. He is 22 years old.
“I’ve been in this sport for 38 years,” Ohio State coach Tom Ryan said. “He’s the greatest college wrestler I’ve ever seen. Many say he’s the greatest of all time. No American has ever left college with three national championships, an Olympic gold medal and two world championships.
>>Read how Kyle Snyder became one of the greatest athletes to come out of Ohio State
“People got to witness one of the greats of all time. The challenge of a 220-pound man trying to move a 280-pound man is significant. He just finds a way to win every single time.”
After the match, Coon sat against the wall of a hallway, disconsolate. A coach stood silently next to him.
“He's a very good wrestler,” Snyder said. “He's had a great career. And he's a really good guy. So he's going to have a really bright future in a lot of different fields, whatever he chooses.”
Coon is an aerospace engineer major, so wrestling is not his only option.
As for Snyder, he is eager to compete internationally full-time. No longer will he be a heavyweight and have to face a major weight disadvantage.
“It's great,” Snyder said. “I'm excited to just continue my international career at 213. That's where I feel really comfortable competing at. And there’s not much strategy involved at that weight class — just going out there and wrestling, trying to score as many points as I can. So I'm glad heavyweight's done.”
Snyder recently bought a home in Upper Arlington so he will continue to use central Ohio as his base. As he prepares for the next chapter of his life, he cherishes the memories he made as a Buckeye — for himself and for others.
“I'll look back at my career at Ohio State and just be thankful for not what I was able to achieve,” he said, “but all the moments and camaraderie and experience I've had with my teammates and coaches and my improvement as a wrestler and as a man and my faith especially. All that's grown so much. So that's what I look back on.”