The dual meet was basically over, but the battle was just beginning.
With Michigan down by six headed into the final match of the night, it would’ve taken a miracle to pull off the team victory. And yet, the 8,000 strong inside Crisler Center were on their feet.
The reason: No. 2 Adam Coon and No. 1 Kyle Snyder were about to go to war.
Snyder, the two-time NCAA National Champion for Ohio State and reigning Olympic gold medalist at 97 kilograms, hadn’t lost a match since 2015. Fellow heavyweight, fifth-year senior Adam Coon, was undefeated on the season with a remarkable 21-0 record.
“It was an interesting, intriguing matchup because you got Adam Coon, 285, athletic and you got Kyle Snyder, who’s obviously smaller than Adam, but just a horse in his own right. An Olympic and World champ,” said coach Joe McFarland. “It doesn’t get much better than that.”
There was a huge amount of hype going into the match, but the pre-match predictions clearly favored the Buckeye. Snyder is widely regarded as the best pound-for-pound wrestler in the world, so even staying in contention with him would’ve been admirable for Coon. The pair’s only other matchup, besides Team USA training duals, was in the 2016 Big Ten Final, which resulted in a 7-4 win for Snyder.
On Sunday night, though, an early stalling warning issued to Snyder told those in attendance this match was going to be different. Coon’s attacking mentality led to a huge takedown towards the end of the first period. The crowd had started to believe.
“The pressure was not on me at all,” Coon said. “It was all on him. I could just go out there and wrestle and have fun. It was nice not having the weight of everything on your shoulders.”
The second period saw Coon fend off a number of leg attacks by Snyder. Thanks to a sixty-pound weight difference, Coon was then able to position himself on top and hold his opponent down. An additional escape point put Coon three points ahead going into the third.
Make no mistake about it, though, Coon looked to attack throughout. In the third period, despite carrying the fatigue of two, hard-fought rounds, Coon’s attacks prevented Snyder from turning the momentum in his favor.
“The coaches are constantly in our ears in the practice room,” Coon said. “They wear us down in the practice room to make sure that we’re ready for those third periods. All I could hear was coach in my ear yelling, ‘Stay on the attack, stay offensive, keep the feet moving and get after it.’ Once you start coasting, trying to get the win, that’s when you start getting your feet tied up and that’s when you start falling to the mat. I wanted to make sure I was on the offensive and getting after it.”
Ultimately, that was the difference. Snyder never looked comfortable, and although he pressed hard at the end of the match, Coon sealed the 3-1 upset victory laying on top. Despite Michigan’s narrow loss in the dual, the night was punctuated with an emphatic win/
“For him to go out there and wrestle like he did is awesome,” said 174-pound redshirt sophomore Myles Amine. “He’s been training so hard. We see the behind-the-scenes and see how hard he trains, so that’s why the team was all going crazy. That was a great win for him.”