Write-up courtesy of Caelan Chevrier
For this week’s Game Changer, the Penn State Sports Business Conference team has chosen to highlight illustrious freestyle wrestler, David Taylor. Taylor is one of the most accomplished wrestlers who attended Penn State and has seen even more success post-graduation. At age 32, he has accolades of considerable size starting in high school and leading into his professional career now, in which he currently competes.
Taylor attended Graham High School in St. Paris, Ohio, and graduated in 2009. He dominated his competition throughout his four years finishing with an overall record of 180-2. Taylor is a four-time state champion and the first and only four-time winner of the Walsh Ironman tournament. He also achieved a 4.0 grade point average and won The Dave Schultz High School Excellence Award based on academic, community service-based, and wrestling merits. As arguably the #1 recruit in the country, Taylor initially committed to Iowa State. Following legendary coach Cael Sanderson to Penn State, Taylor was granted a release and played his entire collegiate career in State College, Pa.
From 2009–2014, Taylor became even further accomplished in dominating his opponents winning 134 matches and only three losses by the time he graduated. Taylor was a two-time NCAA Division I National Champion, and a four-time finalist. He was a two-time Dan Hodge Trophy, the highest achievement a collegiate wrestler can win. Taylor is only one of three people to ever win the trophy multiple times. His winnings didn’t stop there either, he won four Big Ten Conference Championships, and placed third at the World University Games. Needless to say, Taylor was one of the greatest to come out of Penn State’s program, and yet, he did not stop there either.
Taylor had began his professional freestyling career while still enrolled in school, entering various competitions around the world. He placed third at the 2013 Summer Universiade in Russia, and third at the 2013 US World Team Trials Challenge of June. In May 2015 he won his first US Open National title. He won back-to-back Spain Grand Prix titles in 2015-16. He was unable to qualify for the 2016 Summer Olympic Games in Brazil after loss to longtime rival Kyle Dake. In 2018, Taylor secured his first World Championship victory in Budapest, also becoming the United World Wrestling International Freestyle wrestler of the Year, and the John Smith Award in the United States for Freestyle wrestler of the Year. In April 2019, Taylor injured his knee competing in a Beat the Streets match, and came back for the Pan American Olympic Qualification Tournament, and was looking better than ever. Due to the Olympic Trials being postponed in 2020, Taylor finally secured a spot on the wrestling team in 2021. He then defeated Hassan Yazdani, winner of the 2016 gold medal in a comeback match. He had now secured his greatest achievement in the biggest competition in the world.
After his incredible achievement, Taylor kept wrestling at full strength. He placed second at the 2021 World Championships, and first at the 2022 Final X NYC. He also created the M2 Training Center in Pleasant Gap, PA, to help aspiring wrestlers grow and improve their techniques. Five days a week, children from kindergarten to seniors in high school can come to compete and strengthen their skill sets with lessons from qualified trainers. Taylor is also focusing on raising his daughter, London Day.
To conclude, David Taylor has had one of the most successful careers of any Penn State athlete, let alone wrestling. He has defied expectations crushing his opponents for well over a decade now and winning some of the most prestigious awards from all levels of competition, from high school to his professional career. The Penn State Sports Business Conference team could not be prouder to name David Taylor as this week’s Game Changer.