2015 Iowa Wrestling Hall of Fame Inductee
A five-time College All-American? Five, really? How is that possible?
It’s a simple answer for Ken Synder. The Waterloo, Iowa native earned those five honors in just three years at the University of Northern Iowa as he was a three-time Division II place finisher (two-time champion) while also being a two-time Division I place finisher.
“Back when I was wrestling at UNI a number of the strong Division II colleges could compete with the larger schools,” Snyder stated. “ I went to UNI because UNI beat Iowa my senior year in high school.”
Not only compete with the larger programs, as Snyder fondly recalls his junior year at UNI when the Panthers went up against the University of Iowa. “The West gym was packed, the fans were even sitting where the wrestlers normally sat and we had closed circuit televisions playing in other rooms,” Snyder said. “Both teams were ranked number one in their divisions and it was tied at 15 all going into the heavyweight match…and we won that one.”
“We viewed the Division II Nationals as just another qualifying tournament” Snyder recalled as he pointed out that there were 7 Division II title holders that also won Divison I titles during his three years wrestling for UNI. “In my three years of wrestling, over half my matches were against Division I wrestlers.”
In 1972-73 as a sophomore Snyder compiled an 18-5 record and placed second in the NCAA Division II Nationals at 142 pounds. As a junior, he improved to 39-4-1, won the national championship at 142 pounds in the Division II and placed third Division I. Snyder’s senior year saw him win his second Division II title at 142 pounds while placing fifth in the Division I. He was selected as the Outstanding Wrestler in the North Central Conference as a senior and he also helped UNI win the 1975 Division II National Team Championship. He was 41-6-2 his senior year and 98-15-3 overall.
Snyder graduated from Columbus High School in 1971. Hew on the 138 pound state title as a senior with a 24-0-1 record and was 55-6-1 overall.
Snyder credits early wrestling success to a strong youth wrestling program run by Bob Boesen and having Chuck Yagla as practice partner from the youth program through high school.
After graduate school Snyder spent the next three years as the head wrestling coach at Jefferson High School in Alexandria, Minnesota. In his three years he had fourteen wrestlers qualify for the state tournament with ten of them earning medals. Two of his wrestlers were state champions.
Snyder is a member of the Division II Wrestling Hall of Fame, Glen Brands Wrestling Hall of Fame, and the University of Northern Iowa Athletics Hall of Fame.
Snyder was inducted in the Iowa Wrestling Hall of Fame in 2015 along with John Bowlsby, Lee Fullhart and Daryl Weber.
High SchoolWaterloo Columbus
- 1971 138 lb. State Champion
CollegeUniversity of Northern Iowa
- 1973 142 lb. Division II runner-up
- 1974 142 lb. Division II Champion
- 3rd Division I
- 1975 142 lb. Division II Champion
- 5th Division I
- Outstand Wrestler North Central Conference
- On 1975 Division II Team Championship team