The Magic is Back The Magic is

“All the emotions I’ve had over the last couple of seasons … just came out.” — David Taylor

JUSTIN HOCH PHOTO David Taylor won two matches at 86 kilos vs. Olympic gold medalists at the World Cup, including Iran’s Hassan Yazdanicharati.

Taylor makes huge gains with inspiring effort at World Cup — By Richard Immel —

wrestling continues to bridge the gap of political unrest between nations. It was uncertain if the U.S. men’s freestyle


team would participate in the 2017 Freestyle World Cup held in Kermanshah, Iran, due to international travel ban issues between the two ZRUOG SRZHUV 7KH SROLWLFDO FRQÁLFW PDGH KHDG- lines worldwide, but after several days of uncer- tainty it was decided the U.S. would make the trek to Iran and compete in one of the world’s premier wrestling events. For American David Taylor, there was no doubt in his mind about competing at the World Cup. The budding superstar was more than pre- pared to represent his country on the interna- tional stage. “Having that clarity of wanting to be there

and wanting to represent the United States very badly, those things didn’t really seem like much adversity to me. It was a pretty awesome oppor- tunity,” Taylor said. Taylor joined a collection of the best free-

style wrestling talent America has to offer in the journey to Iran. The U.S. squad included Olym- pic champions Jordan Burroughs and Kyle Sny- der, and World champion Logan Stieber, all of


midst the chaos and calamity sur- rounding recent international political relations between the United States and Iran, one constant held true:

whom had a sharp focus on bringing the U.S. its ÀUVW :RUOG &XS FURZQ LQ QHDUO\


population warmly welcomed the Americans. Offerings

Upon arrival in Kermanshah, the Iranian of tea, roses and presents over-

whelmed the U.S. men, in particular, Burroughs was afforded the rock-star treatment. ´7KH\ ZHUH GHÀQLWHO\ UHDOO\ H[FLWHG WR VHH

Jordan,” Taylor said of the Iranian welcome at WKH .HUPDQVKDK DLUSRUW ´7KDW ZDV WKH ÀUVW time I’ve ever been around something like that. It was like a mosh pit. They would just gravitate towards Jordan…for me, I was kind of able to skate right through and sit on the bus and wait. Jordan was pretty overwhelmed. But ultimately, that went really smoothly.” The smooth travel encounters allowed the

team to concentrate on the task at hand on the PDWV 7D\ORU VSHFLÀFDOO\ ZDV JHDULQJ XS IRU ZKDW would become arguably the best performance by an American in the history of the Freestyle World Cup. The week prior to World Cup competi-

tion, United World Wrestling President Nenad Lalovic announced the random group pairings for the event, with the U.S. being placed along- side international powers Russia, Azerbaijan and

Georgia in Group A. This quartet was immedi- ately dubbed the “Group of Death” by the wres- tling community at large. With the 86 kg/189-pound weight class

featuring a bevy of World-class competitors, including two Olympic champions, Taylor knew his performance would be critical for the U.S. to succeed. “My weight class was an important weight

class in every single dual meet, obviously having the tough competitors that I had, where on pa- per, I probably wasn’t favored in any of those matches. That’s what I’ve been training for, hav- ing the opportunity to consistently wrestle the best guys,” Taylor said. The U.S. began its World Cup run against

Georgia, and things were intense right out of the gate for Taylor. The dual meet was well in hand for a U.S. victory as Taylor stepped on the mat against 2012 Olympic bronze medalist Dato Marsagishvili. Taylor fell behind by three points early, but pushed the pace and emerged with a mammoth 8-3 win. The Magic Man followed up that win with

a decisive 14-4 technical fall over 2013 Junior World champion Vladislav Valiev of Russia to assist in a U.S. victory. Again, Taylor trailed early, this time by four points. He stormed back with six-straight takedowns and a turn to ice the match.

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