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Former Penn State Wrestler David Taylor Thriving Professionally After Dominant Penn State Career

Penn State wrestling alum and international wrestling star David Taylor sounded off Thursday going into the U.S. Olympic Wrestling Trials. Taylor’s run at Penn State included two Hodge Trophies, two individual NCAA titles, four individual Big Ten titles, and four All-American distinctions. The Nittany Lion had high praise for the Penn State wrestling culture that he continues to cherish.

“Every athlete that comes to Penn State, their desire is to be great,” Taylor said Thursday. “Over the last 15 years, Penn State has shown that if you want to be a national champion, you come to Penn State.”

Taylor graduated in 2014 after he won his second national title and Hodge Trophy. During Thursday’s press conference, he mentioned his former coach, Cael Sanderson.

“Coach Cael is who I wanted to wrestle like when I was a kid,” Taylor said. “I dreamt of wrestling for coach Cael and still to this point to have achieved every goal that I wanted to achieve and beyond and to still be doing that along with someone I looked up to is great. I’m just a small, small piece example of that.”

Taylor is a member of the Nittany Lion Wrestling Club, a designated U.S. Olympic Regional Training Center by U.S.A. Wrestling that trains out of the Penn State wrestling room in State College. Multiple NLWC wrestlers have faced each other in the trials, notably Alex Facundo and Levi Haines in the opening round of the 74-kilogram weight class.

Taylor felt maintaining the culture that Penn State wrestling fosters improved everyone in the room.

“We have a collective group of people that want to get better every single day and we’re pushing each other every single day,” Taylor said.

The 33-year-old isn’t worried about his age as he dominates the international wrestling scene. Taylor relies on the same mindset he’s had since he was a kid.

“I’m 33 years old, but it’s no different than when I was eight years old,” Taylor said. “I was a national champion when I was eight years old and from that day moving forward my goal was to step in the tournament and be the best wrestler I possibly could be and I wanted to separate myself from my competitors. That’s the only mindset I know.”

Since winning his gold medal in the 2020 Tokyo Olympics, Taylor hasn’t slowed down. He won the Pan-American Championships in 2021 and back-to-back World Championships in 2022 and 2023.

“My competitive instinct is stronger now than it ever has been,” Taylor said. “I have every intention to be the best and that’s what I’m training for.”

Taylor is one of two Penn State-affiliated wrestlers who earned a designated spot in the Championship Series on the second day of competition. The Nittany Lion will face NLWC teammate and fellow Penn Stater Aaron Brooks in the Championship Series Saturday, April 20.

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About the Author

Cooper Cazares

Cooper is a junior majoring in digital and print journalism from Virginia Beach, Va. He can be found with a long face on most Sunday afternoons for he is unfortunately a lifelong Washington Commanders fan. When he isn't watching sports, Cooper is usually tearing up at "Rudy" or taking a well-deserved nap. To reach him, follow him on Instagram (@cooper_cax) or Twitter (@CooperCazares). You can also email him at [email protected].

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