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He keeps going and going...

Constant energy has helped Taylor wrestle to top

Posted: Wednesday January 31, 2007 3:49PM; Updated: Friday February 2, 2007 8:26AM
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David Taylor's restless approach has helped him become the nation's No. 1 wrestler in the 103-pound weight class.
David Taylor's restless approach has helped him become the nation's No. 1 wrestler in the 103-pound weight class.
Photo Courtesy of David Taylor

Bouncing off the walls and looking for a way to release his excess energy, sophomore David Taylor recently had the night off from high school wrestling practice, but his mother did not know what to do with him.

"I told my daughter, 'See, that's why we signed him up for wrestling.'" Taylor's mother, Kathy, says. "He just has got a lot of energy. He won't take the garbage out, but he will go for a second workout."

It's that go-go mentality that has allowed Taylor to grow from a hyper 5-year-old to the nation's No. 1 wrestler in the 103-pound weight class at Graham High (St. Paris, Ohio).

"We lived in a small town in Wyoming [Evanston] and the only thing available for little kids was a freestyle wrestling program, so I signed him up," Kathy Taylor says.

Taylor fit in seamlessly with the Graham varsity team last year as a freshman. After losing to sophomore Ben Sergent of Troy Christian in the season-opening tournament, he reeled off 40 consecutive victories, including the Division II state championship at 100 pounds. He finished with a 42-1 record.

This season he won his first 24 matches -- running his winning streak to 64 -- before falling to Lakewood St. Edward freshman Jamie Clark. He had beaten Clark earlier in the season. Taylor's 66-2 career record includes 35 pins and two straight championships in the Ironman Invitational, the nation's premier tournament.

"[Taylor's] one of the best young kids I've seen in a long time," says Blair Academy (Blairstown, N.J.) coach Jeff Buxton, whose teams have dominated wrestling on a national level in recent years. "He is poised, very technical and unflappable. There's a great target on his back and he has handled it very well."

Taylor's proudest achievement was a 7-3 victory over previously unbeaten Logan Strieber of Monroeville in the finals of this year's Ironman. "It was kind of the premier match [in the entire tournament]," Taylor says. "We're really good friends. It was really an emotional match."

Despite his recent dominance, Taylor remembers his humbling experiences on the mat when he first took up wrestling.

"I didn't really know anything about it," he says. "I thought it was a fun thing to do. I was pretty bad at it. I think I won one match the first year. I wasn't discouraged because I was kind of a happy-go-lucky kid. The next year I decided I wanted to get better and worked hard. There were good kids and beginners and I remember telling my dad that my goal was to be in the better group."

The next year, Taylor did not just improve, he moved to the better age group and started beating all challengers. "My dad started taking me to places like Colorado where I could get better competition," says Taylor. "I got better each year. When I was eight I won my first big title in Reno. That was the turning point of my career. It probably gave me more confidence."

At age nine, Taylor began traveling to St. Paris, Ohio, to participate in the highly-regarded Jeff Jordan State Champ Camp.

"He was a little kid -- long, lean and had really good athletic ability," Jordan says. "He came two or three times a summer and trained. He got tougher and tougher. He always tried to please you. If I'd get mad at him, it would ruin his week. All the time he would ask questions and I liked that."

After attending the Jordan camps for several years, Taylor said to his dad during a long car ride, "Wouldn't it be so cool if I could wrestle for coach Jordan?" Taylor's father, a pilot for Delta Airlines, liked the idea so much that he transferred from Delta's Salt Lake City hub to Cincinnati when his son was a sixth grader. They bought a house in St. Paris, a 1 1/2-hour drive from Cincinnati.

"I could have moved up to other equipment and been a captain," Dave Sr. says, "but I'd rather be with my kids. I don't miss his matches." The sacrificial move has paid great dividends all the way around.

"Coach Jordan has helped me a lot," Taylor said. "He provides a great room every day to train in and get better. He's a good technician and always is there for the kids."

Taylor also works hard in the classroom and has a 4.1 GPA. He's interested in Penn State, Iowa State, Ohio State, Cornell and Oklahoma State. Iowa State could have the inside track because Taylor admits that Iowa State coach Cael Sanderson, a former NCAA and Olympic champion, is his idol.

"He is an amazing wrestler," Taylor says. "He never stops moving. He can catch you from any position."

More notes

• Senior Duncan Phillips of A&M Consolidated (College Station, Texas) ran the mile in 4:09.20 to win the power-packed Invitational Mile race last Saturday at the Reebok Boston Indoor Games. Broadneck senior Matt Centrowitz (Annapolis, Md.) was second in a personal-best 4:10.85 in a field which also included standouts Evan Jager (fifth) and Craig Forys (seventh).

• Senior guard Brittany Johnson scored a school-record 52 points as East Richland (Olney, Ill.) defeated Salem, 89-70. The 5-foot-11 Ohio State recruit made 22-of-30 from the field and a 8-of-8 from the free-throw line, raising her scoring average to 36.3.

• Reaching major coaching milestones in girls basketball last week were George Willis, who won his 800th game at Simmons (Hollandale, Miss.), and Bill Baxter, who won No. 500 at El Camino (Sacramento, Calif.).