“It’s hard for me to even describe the feeling of what it was like to win the Olympics or the Worlds or the NCAAs. I think it’s just hard to put into words, a lot of training on my part, but a lot of effort and guidance from family, friends, coaches, teammates that all helped me accomplish these things.” — Kyle Snyder

From Rio to St. Louis No Other

Roadtrip Like


won a gold medal and Missouri’s J’den Cox won a bronze medal at the 2016 Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, both had to quickly change gears from success at the world’s most important sports competition to refocusing on defending their NCAA titles. When he returned to U.S. soil, Snyder took


some time off for media tours and other appear- ances that come with being an Olympic champi- on. But he quickly came back into the wrestling room for training and competition, and his idea of a normal life. “Since winning the Olympics, I would say

things have been pretty similar. I feel like maybe some more people know me and I’ve had some opportunities to do some cool things and meet some new people. But other than that, the wres- tling is the same, practice is the same. Friends and family are the same. So for the most part life seems relatively similar, which is good, because before the Olympics I liked my life. So I’m glad I went back to that,” Snyder said. Cox almost immediately had to return to

the classroom at Missouri for his senior year, hitting the books just a few days after having an Olympic medal placed around his neck. Cox had a sluggish start to his senior college season, and needed a little break during the year to get back


Olympic medalists Cox and Snyder took different routes to providing historic NCAA moments — By Gary Abbott —

he 2016-17 NCAA Div. I season was very unique with the return of two Olympic medalists to the college scene. When Ohio State’s Kyle Snyder

his intensity and crisp wrestling style. “I hadn’t realized the scenario I was in,”

Cox said. “I had been wrestling for a really long time, and I hadn’t given myself time to rest. I hadn’t given myself time to just kind of sit back, relax and take a chill pill. Now I’ve had that, and I’ve been wrestling at an outstanding pace, at an outstanding level against everybody and anyone who comes in my way.” If you listen to either Snyder or Cox talk

about how they approach their lives and careers, it is very clear neither one is solely motivated by winning and collecting achievements. For Snyder, it is all about challenging him-

self to improve as a wrestler and also as a man. “The thing I love most about wrestling is

there’s always room for improvement, and that’s very motivating for me,” said Snyder. “Instead of just chasing accolades and winning gold medals and things like that, it’s very motivating to me that just my wrestling ability, my wrestling tech- nique, my strength, my speed, all of that I can get better at. And I love that part of wrestling and I love the creativity behind it.” To Cox, it is all about having fun and being

true to himself. He may not have taken the same route to Olympic success as others, but he feels good about the way he did it. “I wrestled for myself. I wrestled because I

love to do what I do. And more so than anything I’m going to wrestle the way I want to wrestle, and I’m going to wrestle when I want to wrestle,” Cox said. This year, Snyder wrestled a limited number

of college events. He went to the World Clubs Cup in Iran, and then won a gold medal at the prestigious Ivan Yarygin Grand Prix in Russia. And in February, he competed at the Freestyle World Cup in Iran. Both Olympic medalists came into the 2017

NCAAs as undefeated No. 1 seeds with confer- ence championships under their belt. Cox won a fourth straight MAC title, while Snyder claimed a Big Ten title for the second-straight year. They were both heavily favored to win the NCAA title, and both had a substantial target on their back. As a senior, Cox was looking to savor the

experience, help his team to achieve great things at the NCAAs, which was held in his home state. “I let it seep in, because that gives me —

, WKLQN LW·V D À UH XQGHUQHDWK PH 3XW WKH SDV sion behind what I do, put the passion within myself, and hopefully that passion will spread throughout my team as well. But that’s what I WKLQN DERXW ,W·V D À QDO WLPH WKDW EODFN DQG JROG will ever be on my shoulders on that mat. So it’s something I hold with pride and I hold with a lot of passion,” Cox said the day prior to the start of the NCAAs. At the NCAAs, Cox powered through his bracket with an opening pin over Jeric Kasunic

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