Snyder Is Big Ten’s Best Athlete

By Jeff Rapp, July 3rd, 2017

It’s not often that an Ohio State student-athlete who isn’t a football or basketball player outshines the everyone from the higher-profile sports.

However, Kyle Snyder is not your typical student-athlete. Earlier this week, the world-champion wrestler was named the 2017 Big Ten Jesse Owens Male Athlete of the Year. His counterpart is Indiana women’s swimmer Lilly King, who was tabbed the Big Ten Female Athlete of the Year.

Snyder is the fifth Buckeye to win Male Athlete of the Year accolades. He joins a prestigious list that also include football star Eddie George (1996), gymnast Blaine Wilson (1997), basketball standout Evan Turner (2010) and fellow wrestler Logan Stieber (2015).

Snyder capped off his junior season with a 17-0 record and claimed his second consecutive Big Ten and NCAA titles at heavyweight. In August, the Woodbine, Md., native became the youngest Olympic wrestling champion in the United States history after winning gold at the 2016 Summer Games in Rio.

Snyder also competed overseas for Team USA at the World Wrestling Clubs Cup in Ukraine, the Ivan Yarygin Grand Prix in Russia and Freestyle World Cup in Iran. The Yarygin is considered to be the most difficult open tournament in the world and Snyder became the first American male to win gold at the event since 2009.

Meanwhile, King is the first female in Indiana’s history to claim Big Ten Athlete of the Year honors. The 2016 Olympic Champion became the first swimmer or diver in Big Ten history to win four individual national titles at the NCAA Championships.

King and Snyder were among a field of nominees that included nine individual national champions, 25 All-Americans, seven individual Big Ten Champions, three 2016 Olympic qualifiers and nine National Players of the Year.

The Big Ten Conference has recognized a Jesse Owens Male Athlete of the Year since 1982 and first honored a Female Athlete of the Year in 1983. The Big Ten Athletes of the Year are selected by a panel of conference media members from nominations submitted by each institution.

The complete list of 2017 Athlete of the Year nominations, as well as the list of all-time winners for each award, can be found below.

2017 Big Ten Athlete Of The Year Nominees
Illinois – Isaiah Martinez, wrestling; Nicole Evans, softball
Indiana – Tegray Scales, football; Lilly King, swimming
Iowa – Peter Jok, basketball; Ally Disterhoft, basketball
Maryland – Matt Rambo, lacrosse; Zoe Stukenberg, lacrosse
Michigan – Jabrill Peppers, football; Brienne Minor, tennis
Michigan State – Tim Ehrhardt, track & field; Sarah Burnham, golf
Minnesota – Tyler Sheehy, hockey; Sarah Wilhite, volleyball
Nebraska – Jake Meyers, baseball; Justin Wong-Orantes, volleyball
Northwestern – Austin Carr, football; Olivia Rosendahl, diving
Ohio State – Kyle Snyder, wrestling; Francesca DiLorenzo, tennis
Penn State – Zain Retherford, wrestling; Steph Lazo, lacrosse
Purdue – Caleb Swanigan, basketball; Devynne Charlton, track & field
Rutgers – Anthony Ashnault, wrestling; Madison Tiernan, soccer
Wisconsin – Morgan McDonald, track & field; Ann-Renee Desbiens, ice hockey

Big Ten Jesse Owens Male Athlete Of The Year Award Winners
1982 – Jim Spivey, Indiana, track and field/cross country
1983 – Ed Banach, Iowa, wrestling
1984 – Sunder Nix, Indiana, track and field
1985 – Barry Davis, Iowa, wrestling
1986 – Chuck Long, Iowa, football
1987 – Steve Alford, Indiana, basketball
1988 – Jim Abbott, Michigan, baseball
1989 – Glen Rice, Michigan, basketball
1990 – Anthony Thompson, Indiana, football
1991 – Mike Barrowman, Michigan, swimming
1992 – Desmond Howard, Michigan, football
1993 – John Roethlisberger, Minnesota, gymnastics
1994 – Glenn Robinson, Purdue, basketball
1995 – Tom Dolan, Michigan, swimming
1996 – Eddie George, Ohio State, football
1997 – Blaine Wilson, Ohio State, gymnastics
1998 – Charles Woodson, Michigan, football
1999 – Luke Donald, Northwestern, golf
2000 – Ron Dayne, Wisconsin, football
2001 – Ryan Miller, Michigan State, ice hockey
2002 – Jordan Leopold, Minnesota, ice hockey
2003 – Amer Delic, Illinois, tennis (co)
2003 – Matt Lackey, Illinois, wrestling (co)
2004 – Damion Hahn, Minnesota, wrestling
2005 – Luis Vargas, Penn State, gymnastics
2006 – Peter Vanderkaay, Michigan, swimming
2007 – Cole Konrad, Minnesota, wrestling
2008 – Brent Metcalf, Iowa, wrestling
2009 – Jake Herbert, Northwestern, wrestling
2010 – Evan Turner, Ohio State, basketball
2011 – David Boudia, Purdue, diving
2012 – Draymond Green, Michigan State, basketball
2013 – Derek Drouin, Indiana, track and field
2014 – David Taylor, Penn State, wrestling
2015 – Logan Stieber, Ohio State, wrestling
2016 – Denzel Valentine, Michigan State, basketball
2017 – Kyle Snyder, Ohio State, wrestling

Big Ten Female Athlete Of The Year Award Winners
1983 – Judi Brown, Michigan State, track and field
1984 – Lisa Ishikawa, Northwestern, softball
1985 – Cathy Branta, Wisconsin, cross country/track
1986 – Stephanie Herbst, Wisconsin, cross country/track
1987 – Jennifer Averill, Northwestern, field hockey/lacrosse
1988 – Suzy Favor, Wisconsin, track and field/cross country
1989 – Suzy Favor, Wisconsin, track and field/cross country
1990 – Suzy Favor, Wisconsin, track and field/cross country
1991 – Julie Farrell-Ovenhouse, Michigan State, diving (co)
1991 – Joy Holmes, Purdue, basketball (co)
1992 – MaChelle Joseph, Purdue, basketball
1993 – Lara Hooiveld, Michigan, swimming
1994 – Kristy Gleason, Iowa, field hockey
1995 – Laura Davis, Ohio State, volleyball
1996 – Olga Kalinovskaya, Penn State, fencing
1997 – Kathy Butler, Wisconsin, track and field (co)
1997 – Gretchen Hegener, Minnesota, swimming (co)
1998 – Sara Griffin, Michigan, softball
1999 – Stephanie White-McCarty, Purdue, basketball
2000 – Lauren Cacciamani, Penn State, volleyball
2001 – Katie Douglas, Purdue, basketball
2002 – Christie Welsh, Penn State, soccer
2003 – Perdita Felicien, Illinois, track and field
2004 – Kelly Mazzante, Penn State, basketball
2005 – Jennie Ritter, Michigan, softball
2006 – Tiffany Weimer, Penn State, soccer
2007 – Jessica Davenport, Ohio State, basketball
2008 – Hannah Nielsen, Northwestern, lacrosse
2009 – Maria Hernandez, Purdue, golf
2010 – Megan Hodge, Penn State, volleyball
2011 – Shannon Smith, Northwestern, lacrosse
2012 – Christina Manning, Ohio State, track and field
2013 – Amanda Kessel, Minnesota, ice hockey
2014 – Dani Bunch, Purdue, track and field
2015 – Taylor Cummings, Maryland, lacrosse
2016 – Rachel Banham, Minnesota, basketball
2017 – Lilly King, Indiana, swimming