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THE LAST WORD


David Taylor poised to make huge impact


S


T LOUIS - How good is Penn State sophomore David Taylor? That’s a question that has been asked frequently since Taylor decimated the field in winning the NCAA title at 165 pounds on March 15-17 at the Scottrade Center.


Taylor won four matches by fall before rolling to a 22-7 finals win by technical fall over Lehigh’s Brandon Hatchett. In 16 years of covering the NCAA tournament, I can’t remem- ber seeing a more dominant performance. Taylor simply has all the intangibles you would want in an elite wrestler. He’s very good technically, he’s strong and fast, and he has a motor that seemingly never stops running. He’s the best college wrestler I’ve seen at this age since a guy named Cael Sanderson, who just happens to be his head coach.


And in a grueling, demanding, punishing sport like wrestling,


Taylor seems to be really enjoying himself. Wrestling can be fun. Just ask Taylor.


This kid has a tremendous upside. I first met David when he was all of 110 pounds when he made the U.S. Junior World Team in 2007. He was with his dad, who is a very tall man, and you could tell he had plenty of growing left to do. His 2011 NCAA finals loss to Arizona State’s Bubba Jenkins may end up being one of the best things that happened to him. Taylor already was plenty motivated to be the best, but that set- back drove him even more and seemed to really light a fire in him that carried over into an amazing sophomore season. Taylor wrestles a lot like Sanderson, and he appears to have a very bright future ahead in freestyle wrestling. I watched Taylor roll around with Sanderson and past World silver medalist Jake Herbert last summer during a U.S. World


Team Camp in Colorado Springs and came away very impressed. He didn’t back down one bit from the two more proven and older wrestlers, firing in on leg attacks and fighting for points.


Craig Sesker


That experience obviously contributed to his growth and devel- opment.


The 6-foot Taylor looks like he has the type of frame to even- tually grow into the freestyle weight class of 84 kg/185 lbs. Imagine World champion Jordan Burroughs at 74 kg/163 lbs.


and Taylor at 84 kilos on a few World Teams together. That would be something to see. Taylor and teammate Ed Ruth have been great for college wrestling. Both wrestle a wide-open, attacking style where they are looking for pins. That is great for the sport and provides plenty of entertainment for the fans. The U.S. has a number of college stars who are ready to make an impact on the Senior level in freestyle. They include three-time NCAA champion Kyle Dake of Cornell, two-time NCAA champions Matt McDonough of Iowa and Kellen Russell of Michigan, and NCAA champions Logan Stieber of Ohio State, Jordan Oliver of Oklahoma State and Quentin Wright of Penn State.


NCAA champion Dustin Kilgore of Kent State already is mak- ing a huge impact in freestyle during his Olympic redshirt year. Kilgore has enjoyed his share of success already at the interna- tional level. He has made major gains during his year at the U.S. Olympic Training Center in Colorado Springs. The future looks very bright for the U.S. in freestyle because of guys like David Taylor. I can’t wait to see how far this kid pro- gresses at the college and international levels.


42 USA Wrestler


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