The best wrestler at Coronado High School will never wear a Cougars singlet.
But recent transfer Kyle Snyder is wearing red, white and blue; and perhaps some gold pretty soon.
The three-time Maryland high school state champion (179-0 career) and national 2013 ASICS High School Wrestler of the Year showed a glimpse of his untapped potential when the 212-pounder became the youngest American in 20 years to win a FILA world junior championship. The 17-year-old prevailed in the ages 17-20 division in August.
Snyder spent the summer at the Olympic Training Center in Colorado Springs and decided to stay through the 2013-14 season to work with assistant coaches Bill Zadick and Brandon Slay.
"For a 17-year-old to win the 18-20 division was impressive," Zadick said. "We are excited about his future and the potential of what he can do."
Snyder will be a tweener over the next couple of seasons, competing in both the junior (ages 18-20) and senior (20 and older) divisions. He won his first bronze medal on Nov. 30, 10 days after his 18th birthday, at a senior tournament in France after losing to the eventual champion in a tiebreaker.
Snyder is confident he will make the Rio 2016 team and plans to put in whatever work is necessary to make it.
"I think I will be ready for the senior trials in 2015 and can compete for a world championship that year," he said. "I definitely think I will make it to Rio. Coaches Zadick and Slay are showing me what I need to work on. Hopefully I can continue to get better each year. I need to make the most of my time here."
Snyder's Olympic hopes could be delayed if not for the cooperation of the Coronado faculty and staff. He credits them for juggling his class schedule to allow him to compete in two practices on weekdays and to miss 10 days in February to travel with the men's national team to Cuba for practice with current Olympians.
They are happy to do it.
"While he has no time for extracurricular clubs or activities he is an integral part of each one of his classes," business teacher Doug Gryboski said. "We are fortunate to have Kyle as a student at Coronado because he is such a wonderful role model."
At Coronado, he works with special needs students as part of the Partners in Physical Education course.
"He is very delicate with them and shows them exactly what to do," PE teacher Amber Curry said. "It's probably hard for him because I am sure he is competitive and wants to be just as competitive in PE but has to take a few steps down to be a leader in that class."
Next fall, Snyder will wrestle for Ohio State, a top-10 college program, which houses one of the country's best training facilities. He will have the chance to practice against past and current national team members and top college grapplers.
That kind of experience will be critical for Snyder's development. Making the U.S. team will be very tough with reigning Olympic champion Jake Varner in his division.
"It is a loaded weight class," Zadick said. "But Kyle is mature beyond his years with his work ethic and drive, which he shares with other world champions we have had."
His OTC roommate, Garrett Ryan, who will wrestle for Columbia next season, expects Snyder to go far.
"He's wrestling on an elite level right now," Ryan said. "Everything in his life is about wrestling. He is focused on his big goal and he will do whatever work it takes."