In high school, the two were nearly indistinguishable against one another, though Cox had the most recent win in a freestyle match in Fargo at 220 pounds. As the years progressed, they continued to split in Greco-Roman and freestyle.
2012 Fargo Greco-Roman:
2012 Fargo Freestyle:
Later, Snyder enjoyed more freestyle success, and won Junior Worlds after his junior year in high school. Cox was the last loss of Snyder's high school career.
During Snyder's senior year, Cox won a NCAA title as a true freshman:
After Cox's NCAA title, Snyder wanted that rematch even more:
That summer, Snyder gave up his senior year of high school to train at the Olympic Training Center, and went on to win bronze at Junior Worlds.
The question as to who would win the rematch once the two hit college was popular among wrestling fans nationwide. Everyone eagerly anticipated the match when Missouri headed to Ohio State for a dual.
But when it was time for the 197-pound match-up, it wasn’t Cox who stood across from Snyder, but John Eblen. Missouri's coach, Brian Smith, elected to bump Cox up to 285 pounds—a tactic that paid off and earned the Tigers a 20-19 victory. But the question lingered: Cox or Snyder?
A few months later, the two had cruised to the NCAA semifinals at 197 pounds. It was going to happen: Kyle Snyder vs. J’den Cox. In an incredibly tight bout, Snyder hit a beautiful ankle pick that turned out to be the only offensive points of the match.
Snyder got his revenge and punched his ticket to the NCAA finals. Neither went home with a title—Snyder lost in finals, and J’den settled for fifth place.
Later that spring, Snyder and Cox collided once more. This time, in freestyle at the U.S. Open. Cox scored the opening points, but Snyder wound up taking the bout 4-3. Later that tournament, Snyder unseated Olympic champion Jake Varner. Snyder went on to make the world team and won a world title at 19 years old.
On New Years Day, Ohio State announced Snyder would forgo his Olympic redshirt to compete for Ohio State. This would have likely put Cox and Snyder on yet another collision course, but Snyder didn't go down to 197 again—he went up to 285 pounds.
Both Cox and Snyder stood on top of the podium in Madison Square Garden; Cox at 197, and Snyder at 285.
Cox’s NCAA victory enabled him to enter the the Olympic Trials just three weeks later to potentially set up another Snyder/Cox showdown. But Cox shocked many when he announced he’d compete at 86kg (189.5 pounds) instead of 97kg (213 pounds), where he competed previously.
Snyder made the Olympic Team with two victories over 2012 Olympic champion Jake Varner. Meanwhile, Cox stormed through the bracket of proven contenders at 86kg: Clayton Foster, Jake Herbert and eventually Kyle Dake in the Trials finals.
The two officially became Olympic teammates when Cox went to Mongolia and won the 86kg Olympic Games Qualifier.
Now, when Team USA fans are pressed to answer “Cox or Snyder?” they can thankfully say “both.”