HS wrestling: Union’s Snediker makes positive change

Out of shape in middle school, a state champion in high school

VANCOUVER — He transformed his mind, then he transformed his body.

He got off the couch and pretty much lived in a wrestling room.

Danny Snediker wanted to be like his older brother, an athlete.

Danny Snediker made it happen, then he made himself a state champion.

Danny Snediker of Union (top), shown here at Clark County Wrestling Championships, went from overweight and out of shape in middle school to a state champion in high school. Photo by Mike Schultz
Danny Snediker of Union (top), shown here at Clark County Wrestling Championships, went from overweight and out of shape in middle school to a state champion in high school. Photo by Mike Schultz

A year ago, the wrestler from Union had his arm raised in triumph at Mat Classic, the Class 4A state champion at 152 pounds.

Danny Snediker changed his whole life from middle school to high school, dedicating himself to becoming an athlete, and a top-tier wrestler. He won a state title as a junior and is looking for a second championship later this month. Photo by Paul Valencia
Danny Snediker changed his whole life from middle school to high school, dedicating himself to becoming an athlete, and a top-tier wrestler. He won a state title as a junior and is looking for a second championship later this month. Photo by Paul Valencia

That was 152 pounds of muscle, heart, determination.

That number has more significance when considering his measurables from just a few years ago. As a seventh-grader, Snediker was 4-feet-9 and weighed 160 pounds, wrestling on the JV team in middle school.

He knew he needed to make a change.

At first, change came slow. Oh, he was improving himself as an eighth-grader, working out with his older brother Michael, but he took it to another level heading into high school.

“Eighth-grade summer was the biggest change for me. I really dedicated myself,” Snediker said. “I don’t think anyone saw me outside of a wrestling room that summer. I just started working harder and harder.”

He ran 5 miles a day. He jumped rope, 5,000 rotations, every day.

Union wrestling coach John Godinho had known Danny through Michael. Godinho saw Danny when he was out of shape in middle school. Then he saw him as freshman, walking the halls at Union.

“He came back to us as a new kid,” Godinho said. “After that, it was on.”

It was time for Danny to reach his goal, of being as good, if not better, than his brother.After all, his brother is who inspired Danny to do all of this.

“He’s my role model. I gravitate to everything he starts doing,” Danny said. “When I started, I didn’t have high hopes. He ended up taking it super serious, getting second in state his senior year. I didn’t even have a dream. But why not do what my brother did? It will make us closer.”

Danny Snediker said he was always active when he was real young, when the family lived in California. When the Snedikers moved to the Northwest, though, it was too cold to go outside, he said.

“My parents are great cooks, and I started putting on weight,” he said with a laugh.

Union’s Danny Snediker (top) is 30-0 this season heading into the postseason. He is a defending state champion. Photo by Mike Schultz
Union’s Danny Snediker (top) is 30-0 this season heading into the postseason. He is a defending state champion. Photo by Mike Schultz

The food still tastes great, but Snediker started making smarter choices with his diet. Combined with his new training regimen, the chubby middle schooler was becoming a fit high schooler.

Then he added another ingredient to make the turnaround complete. As a freshman in the Union wrestling room, he demanded that he battle against the older, more accomplished teammates every day in practice.

No fear. No apprehension.

“I’d go with all the best in the room,” Snediker said. “They were the ones who would push me.”

Snediker improved so much that he qualified for state as a freshman. He did not place, but he got a taste. As a sophomore, he placed fifth at Mat Classic.

Then there was another big change for Snediker.

A lot of athletes say they just want to do better than the previous year. So going into his junior year, Snediker might have been satisfied with a top-four finish. Nope. Not anymore.

“Your goal should always be on top,” he said. “I don’t want to just place. I want to win it. All year, I had that mindset. No limitations.”

That led to the state title.

Now, he wants to become a two-time state champion. Wrestling’s postseason begins this week with the district tournament. Regionals are next week. Mat Classic is Feb. 14-15 in the Tacoma Dome.

In competition, we already know what he is about, winning.

In training, and off the mat, Snediker was recognized earlier this season for the person he is. He was the recipient of the Mark Dodge award at Clark County Wrestling Championships. The award is given annually to the wrestler who demonstrates character, leadership, and work ethic, among other things.

Snediker is not just a Union wrestling champion. He is a champion for the sport itself. At club wrestling, he is always helping others, no matter what school they attend.

“I want to show them a little bit of what I’ve learned,” Snediker said. “I work with everyone. It makes me better, too, just explaining everything.”

Godinho said Snediker has never talked trash to an opponent. He just goes about his business. Godinho said a parent from a different wrestling program is the one who nominated Snediker for the honor. That says a lot.

“In life, you have to be a giving person,” Snediker said. “I just try to look back on the opportunities people have given me, and I try to give back.”

He supports all Union wrestlers first, of course. However, he said he was cheering for Camas’ Tanner Craig last year to win his state title. This season, he has high hopes for Jack Latimer, also of Camas. And he wants all Southwest Washington wrestlers to excel.

Snediker is certainly excelling again. He is 30-0 this season.

“The goal is to make the next six minutes my best six minutes, whether it’s in district, regionals, or state,” he said.

Danny Snediker is used to that, by now. He has been making himself the best he could be for the last few years.

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About The Author

Paul Valencia joins ClarkCountyToday.com after more than two decades of newspaper experience. He became the face of high school sports coverage in Clark County during his 17 years at The Columbian. Before moving to Vancouver, Paul worked at Oregon daily newspapers in Pendleton, Roseburg, and Salem. A graduate of David Douglas High School in Portland, Paul enlisted in the U.S. Army, serving three years as a soldier/journalist. He and his wife Jenny recently celebrated their 20th anniversary. They have a son who has a passion for karate and Minecraft. Paul’s hobbies include: Watching the Raiders play football, reading about the Raiders playing football, and waiting to watch and read about the Raiders playing football.

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