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Andy’s Angles: It’s amazing what kids are doing these days at 2015 Worlds
By Andy Hamilton
STORY OF THE DAY: Kids Rock
LAS VEGAS, Nev. — Kyle Snyder went to prom in April. Abdulrashid Sadulaev is still too young to legally gamble in Las Vegas.
They’re both teenagers. Both 19, to be exact.
And yet they already rule the wrestling universe.
Minutes after Sadualev became the youngest repeat champion in World history, Snyder bumped John Smith down a notch and etched his name in as the youngest champ in American history.
Incredible what kids are doing these days.
“I want to be known as one of the greatest wrestlers to ever live,” said Snyder, who downed 2014 World champ Abdusalam Gadisov 5-5 on criteria in the gold-medal match at 97 kilograms. “And that’s what I plan on doing.”
Nights like Friday make it easy to forget that Snyder lost four times at the college level last season. Nine months ago, he came to Las Vegas and placed third at the Cliff Keen Invitational. He was the runner-up at the Big Ten and NCAA meets.
Yeah, that’s a different style and a different weight class, but the wounds are still fresh.
“When you feel pain like that, you never want to feel it again,” Snyder said. “I wasn’t going to take second at the Big Tens, seconds at Nationals and then come out here and take silver at the Worlds.”
If he exercises the option, Snyder still has three seasons of eligibility left at Ohio State.
But what happens if he goes to Rio next year and knocks Henry Cejudo out of the books as the country’s youngest Olympic champ?
“I plan on going back to Ohio State,” he said. “If I can wrestle the best guys in the world, I should be able to go to class a couple times a day.”
There’s no doubt he can handle the planet’s best wrestlers. Gadisov is 26. The Russian placed fifth at the World Championships in 2009, wrestled in the 2012 Olympics and reached the pinnacle last year. He’s been around the international block.
When Snyder was in junior high school — that was only five years ago — Snyder began picturing himself wrestling on the globe’s biggest stage. When he wasn’t brushing up his skills in the practice room, he’d immerse himself in video study. He spent hours watching guys like Gadisov.
“A lot of time goes into something like this,” Snyder said. “Guys like Gadisov and the other guys in my bracket are a big reason why I’m where I’m at today. I appreciate them, and I know without them pushing me to become a better wrestler I probably would’ve never done this.”
With a World title on the line, Snyder wrestled Gadisov even for the first three minutes. After the two wrestlers traded takedowns, the Russian held the lead on criteria when Snyder used a slick level change to corral Gadisov’s legs for the go-ahead score with 23 seconds. It gave him enough cushion to still step out once and register a 5-5 victory on criteria.
“I knew if I relentlessly attacked him and was winning the hand fight and if I was faking and moving my feet he was going to wear down a little bit,” said Snyder, who entered the tournament ranked 15th. “But recently I’ve been watching him wrestle and he hasn’t been gassing much. He’s just been doing a lot of winning, so I knew it was going to be a tough match and I had to wrestle probably my absolute best to beat him.”
Sadulaev, meanwhile, came to Las Vegas as the overwhelming favorite at 86 kilograms. The 19-year-old Russian mowed through his bracket.
The results of his five matches: 11-0, 30-second fall, 10-0, 10-0, 6-2, 6-0. His running count at the World Championships now includes a pin and a 92-5 advantage over his other 10 opponents.
It’s not supposed to be this easy.
“Maybe it just seems like it, but it’s not so easy just because of the age,” Sadulaev said through an interpreter. “All the opponents are older and they’re stronger and the weight category is not that easy. It just seems easy. It’s not.”
Best story (non-teen division): Leigh Jaynes-Provisor claims bronze
She lost her only match at the World Championships in 2007. It took her five years before she got another shot and she lost her opening-round bout in 2012. At age 34, Jaynes-Provisor wasn’t supposed to be a lynchpin to the American hopes for a team-medal performance.
But it all came down to her Friday night. Jaynes-Provisor scored two points on exposure in the final 20 seconds to beat Azerbaijan’s Petrovna Netreba 4-4 on criteria in the match for bronze at 60 kilograms. With it, the Americans topped Azerbaijan for third in the team race.
“You’ve got an athlete out there who’s worked years and years and years for something to hang around her neck,” USA Wrestling women’s national coach Terry Steiner said. “For us to be third, in our country, at the World Championships is very important.”
Jaynes-Provisor said winning a medal on Sept. 11 carried extra weight.
“My dad is a Vietnam veteran,” she said. “He’s a tremendous patriot. I love the United States of America. I don’t like it when people attack our people on our home soil. … I just wanted to go out there and have a good showing for the United States of America and have a good showing for the United States Army and battle it out. I know none of these competitors have anything to do with the incident that happened on 9/11, but for me it was significant to go out there and to wrestle tough and fight back for the United States.”
Best head scratcher: Leading by one and with criteria on his side against Ukraine’s Vasyl Shuptar, top-ranked Russian Aleksandr Bogomoev stepped out of bounds with three seconds remaining to even the score 3-3. Because Shuptar had a caution, Bogomoev still held the lead on criteria. But the Russian corner tossed in the challenge block, lost the video review and the Ukrainian picked up the winning point.
Best quote: “I’m leaving here pissed off. I’m motivated. I feel bad. I feel like I let my family down and I feel I let the fans down. It’s good because if I wasn’t emotional about it, then what the hell am I doing out there?” – Jake Herbert
Best quote (World champion division): “If I didn’t gut that one out, I’d be sitting in the stands eating Skittles.” – Kyle Snyder on his 2-1 opening-round victory against Ukraine’s Pavlo Oliinyk.