David Taylor: "He Knows He Can't Exchange With Me"

David Taylor: "He Knows He Can't Exchange With Me"

Mike Mal picked David Taylor's brain before the World Champion meets fellow World Champ Jordan Burroughs for the first time in six years.

Jan 6, 2021 by Ryan Holmes
It's no secret that David Taylor has evolved since the last time he lined up across from Jordan Burroughs. But how much of what we can't see from the eye test has changed? 

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It's no secret that David Taylor has evolved since the last time he lined up across from Jordan Burroughs. But how much of what we can't see from the eye test has changed? 

Watch Jordan Burroughs vs David Taylor

Jan. 9 | 8PM EST

Mike Mal picked Taylor's brain before the World Champion meets Burroughs for the first time in six years to hear how he's taken his body, his game and his mindset up to the next level. 

Watch the full sit-down with David Taylor!

Read and hear what former Nittany Lion had to say ahead of his match with Burroughs on January 9th.

Mike Mal (00:00):

What has changed since the last time you wrestled Jordan?

David Taylor (00:05):

What has changed since last time I wrestled Jordan? Well, 2014, that's a quite a long time ago. At that time Jordan was unquestioned the best wrestler on the planet. I was just coming out of college, just really, I guess, getting my, I would say international career started, but that's not even really a fair assumption, because I look back at that time and I really wasn't prepared to be the best in the world, given just that time period, trying to perform after a big weight cut, 74 kilos. And also just, I hadn't really progressed technically, I feel like in a couple of years, the way that I needed to, to really, truly consider myself the best in the world at that time. And I think it showed. It showed in those matches I wrestled that time.

David Taylor (01:02):

At that point in my career, I didn't really wrestle many close matches. So when I got in the close matches, I didn't make great decisions. And when you're wrestling guys of that caliber who have wrestled, once you get on the international stage and you go through that time period and you get those 30, 40 matches a year, you're going to have matches, you're going to feel great, you're going to learn how to score in different situations. But you're also going to learn in the matches where you don't feel good and you are losing, you have to manufacturer your scores. And I struggled at that point in time with that.

David Taylor (01:37):

So the biggest thing I think that has changed is I was able to reinvent myself, focus on just getting better at wrestling, better in more areas. And also having that greedy capability of, hey, it's not going well, you're losing at this point in time, but let's stay tough. Let's focus on scoring the next point and finding a way to win this match rather than finding a way to lose this match. And I think that has been the biggest difference for me going to this match or any match I go into at this point in my career, versus where I was at that point in time.

Mike Mal (02:09):

Okay, that's more than fair. You said there were decision that you... You made poor decisions when you were in close matches in 2014. What decisions would you have changed in that particular match?

David Taylor (02:24):

So the US Open, starting with that one, where there was that point late in the match when I was winning, and instead of, again, how many times at that point in my career had I been in a big match like that, and do I keep scoring or do I shut it down? And I think then it was like, "I'll shut it down." People do that, they shut it down and they win these matches. That's just not the way I wrestle. So it created this... I just froze. We've got the first take down, we come back on our feet, short time left. And I remember making the choice. He shot and I'm like, "Okay, I don't know if I can defend it. I'll give myself a chance to score at the end." But just not enough time left. And to be able to process that on a quick decision, you got to know, you got to fight every single point. And I was learning lessons. You got to fight every single day point.

David Taylor (03:15):

And I found a way to lose that match, really, more than I feel like Jordan found a way to win, I think I found a way to lose. And it was a weird situation because it didn't matter the outcome of that match, Jordan was already going to sit in the finals. So it wasn't like he didn't 03 the US Open at that period of time. I think that was the last elective tournament that he chose. And I think there's a reason that was the last elective tournament that he chose. I just think he thought I wasn't a threat or anyone else wasn't a threat at that period of time. Clearly I was.

David Taylor (03:47):

So then I had to go through the mini tournament, wrestle, and the next time, the best two out of three, and I mentioned the weight cut that I had, and my body just fell apart. As I got later in the tournament, I just couldn't perform at that level. And I'm trying to manufacture this, "I can get through this match. I can do this." But my back was completely shot. My neck was completely... If you look at those matches, there was a point where I was competitive and then my neck would start hanging. I basically couldn't even lift my head up because my body was so messed up. And at that period of time, there were exchanges in both of those matches and I still... I haven't watched those matches in so long, but I remember them vividly.

David Taylor (04:26):

And one of which, and I don't remember it was the first match or second match I wrestled, there was an exchange and I hit a pick on the out of bounds line. What Jordan had done so well, and this one thing he does really well is he doesn't usually give up takedowns in the center of the mat. You get to his leg and he turns and kicks, or he goes split and he'll like sacrifice whatever he needs to do because he's a great competitor. So I remember that in my head that earlier, it was like, I need takedowns, and earlier I got to him and they were push outs and I kept running him down, out of bounds. I wasn't getting a takedown.

David Taylor (04:54):

So I hit it, and I remember, okay, if I get this up and get the push out, I think it three, three, something like that, I don't remember exactly what the score was, and I hesitated for a second and he slipped my grip and then I tried to get out of bounds and he ended up tackling me down. And my knees didn't hit. I remember we're in a quadpod, that gave him two, four. And that was the exchange. That was the exchange that made the difference in that match.

David Taylor (05:18):

So we talk about decision-making, fast forward now, now those decisions, I've been in those matches, I've been in those situations many times that it's not a big thought process. You just react and you do the right thing. And at that point in time, those are two instances in those matches that were learning lessons for me, long time, once I was able to take a step back and say, "I need to get better at wrestling." Those are instances that I think about, thought about the time, that if I... You can't change then, but you can certainly change the way you prepare and the way you perform now. And I would say my performance is over the last three, four years has definitely proven that.


Mike Mal (05:55):

Sure. But how do you prep for the... Do you put yourself in positions in the training room? Do you find people that can maybe duplicate Jordan's style of wrestling? How do you prepare? How are you going to prepare for those particular instances?

David Taylor (06:21):

I prepare for those. I've been preparing for them for, what was it? Six years ago? It's been every day since then. And I think the biggest thing for me was, at that point in my career, I didn't have the international matches. I had gone to Junior Worlds, I had gone to University Worlds, but they were isolated events. And I went to a couple international tournaments. And my performances were just inconsistent then.

David Taylor (06:43):

So the biggest way to prepare is, in 2017, in 2018, I wrestled, I think I wrestled more matches than anybody in the world during that period of time. So I had matches where I was losing four, zero. I had matches I winning eight, zero. I had matches that were close matches. I had so many different situations where I was challenged. I specifically went to the World Cup in 2017 to wrestle four consecutive matches like that. And I think that's what Jordan, at the time, he's got 120 international matches, it just comes with that savviness, experience. And there's no really way to expedite that, it just comes with time, and also great training partners.

David Taylor (07:22):

And one thing that I don't think anyone else can replicate is who they're training with compared to who are the people that I have trained with every single day. Above, below, same weight as myself, I'm getting tested every single day in every single situation. There's no easy points. There's nothing just given any day. There's a bunch of sharks and we're just all trying to swim and make the most of our opportunities.

Mike Mal (07:45):

Is there one particular match where you can say you really turned the corner in that mindset of, "Holy crap, I'm down. Do I shut it down or do I wrestle?" Is there one particular match that you can think of internationally that really had you turn the corner?

David Taylor (08:03):

Yazdani, 2017, the World Cup. That was it. I remember it was like, okay, I was on a run, I beat... Well, even force matchings, 08, tough guy. And I wasn't scoring, he got an early score. I wasn't scoring, wasn't scoring. I got a takedown, got the lead, got another score and kind of blew it open. It was eight to three I think was the final score. Then I wrestled Valiev, floored me right off the bat into a lace and I had to fight the lace and got back up, scored 14 straight, 14, four. Then wrestle Sharifov, tech fall, 12, two.

David Taylor (08:35):

And then I'm wrestling, Yazdani. And that was like, okay, we were in a tight dual meet, not only am I wrestling, we're in a dual meet where Iran is kicking our butt too, and this is a must-win match if we're going to get back into this, must win, or we lose, we get blown out by them. And he's just doing what he does best, he's pushing me around. He's just dominating me, but I'm just extending the scores, no takedowns, only push outs, get that takedown and the end of the period. I remember going, three minute break, being exhausted, so tired. But at the same time, okay, I'm exhausted, but it's three, two, I'm right here making that decision.

David Taylor (09:07):

And that was when I was like, "Okay. It doesn't matter who I wrestle, I can win every single still match." That was a huge turning point for me in my career. The guy, he was an Olympic champion, in 2016, the year before. So I kind of got over that hurdle. I beat two Olympic champions that day. And yeah, that was a turning point for me.

Mike Mal (09:26):

All right. Who do you consider your biggest rival in this sport?

David Taylor (09:32):

Biggest rival? I just think that I've been wrestling big matches my entire life. So I think that it's just, I don't know if there's one specific person, but I think that there's a time when I'm not ever going to gravitate away from wrestling big matches. Rivalry, I guess, would suggest that you both are winning matches back and forth, and that probably hasn't really been something that's happened for me. It's like every match I wrestle, there's a storyline, there's a competitiveness, there's this guy dominates everyone, this guy is close, or whatever there is, that's in that category. But in terms of winning matches back and forth, there really hasn't probably been one for me.

David Taylor (10:12):

I think currently Yazdani, just because of, although I've won two matches against him, they are battles. Those matches, and one exchange can be turned one way or the other, so there's not really a perceived separation on one way. I've come out on top of both of those matches, but that's definitely a guy that, he's young and he's going to hit his prime soon, or if he is already. He's definitely training with that on his mind. So I'd say probably that's the one. But just like I said earlier, there are so many guys. There's always the next person. There's the next guy. There's the next young kid. There's the next this, that you've got to always constantly be prepared for. So, I don't really think of things as rivalries as much as, you got to be excited, you got to be up for every single match because these guys are coming.

Mike Mal (10:58):

Okay. You and Jordan are probably two of the most clutch wrestlers, right? Because you have been down to Yazdani on more than one occasion. Jordan finds a way to come back in just about every match with the exception of Sidakov. Something has got to give on January 9th, has to. Somebody is going to win that match. What makes you confident that you are going to be the winner in minute five and six?

David Taylor (11:34):

I just don't have any doubt. I just step into every single match and those are my strongest periods. That's my strongest minutes. It's not the first score, or second score, or third score. It's going to be a lot of exchanges. But I believe, Jordan, that's what he has done great for a long time. So by no means am I underestimating that. But he knows he can't exchange back and forth with me. He just can't do it. I don't think anybody can exchange back and forth with me. So what he can do to everyone else, he's going to have to significantly alter that game plan when he wrestles me, because an exchange back and forth is just not a recipe for success for him.


Mike Mal (12:12):

Okay. The evolution of your wrestling from, let's just call it 2014, when you really started up on the senior level, to now, have you progressed more offensively or defensively?

David Taylor (12:31):

That's a great question. I think continuing to get better and I think they ebb and flow. I think there's times when I come home and tell my wife, "Man, I think I've scrambled better than I've ever scrambled." And she's like, "Well, you've always been a good scrambler. Why do you say that?" And then there's days where it's like, "Man, I feel like my offenses is as good as it's ever been." But I think that's when being a true competitor, those things come out. And I try and explain that to my kids in my club. You don't want to be one-dimensional where you only score this way. And I think for me, I can score in a lot of different ways. I can tell you for certain, if Jordan shoots a single leg, he's thinking cradle. He's thinking cradle. There's no doubt in my mind. He can't just shoot. If anyone shoots singularly to one of my legs, the probability of them scoring is low.

David Taylor (13:18):

So Jordan's best is to take down the double leg, clearly. Double leg delays, that's his best thing. To me, that's really, when he's wrestling me, that's his attack. It's a re-attack and it's a double leg. But even on his re-attack, if he doesn't get both of my legs, it's going to be a battle. It's going to be a dog fight. And I think that's where, when someone wrestles me, yeah, I'm coming to you offensively, and I can score with both of my hands and both sides of the body, but defensively, you get to my leg, there's no easy scores. I'm not going to give you an easy score. And there's always that threat of where's that cradle coming from?

Mike Mal (13:49):

That cradle, you rolled him through on it more than once. Not many people have done that to Jordan Burroughs. Do you think you could do that again?

David Taylor (13:59):

If someone gets on my leg, they hang onto that leg long enough, they're in trouble. And I think internationally, guys have learned, hey, I'll live another day. And I feel it. You threaten the position, and hey, I'll live another day. So yeah, I'd say it's a position that I feel very confident in. And if I get my hands locked, I'll make a conscious effort this time. I won't roll him out of bounds. So I think, again, dating back to that, I knew that I could wrestle with Jordan then, and I believed I could beat him, but that was a situation where that's just something that, if truly you're going to win the match, you win the match there. Twice, twice I had him in the same position, and I was just content to just score the cradle. That's where you got to smell blood, and you got to finish it. And I think that's... I don't know. Is that going to happen in the match? I don't know. We'll see. If Jordan shoots the single leg, we'll find out.


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Mike Mal (14:53):

Okay. I've heard you in interviews before refer to one of your Kyle Dake matches as one of the only times you ever got tired in a match. Did you feel that way at all wrestling Jordan back in 2014?

David Taylor (15:11):

Oh yeah.

Mike Mal (15:11):

You did.

David Taylor (15:12):

Yeah, definitely. Not the US Open match because I was just fresh off the collegiate season. And obviously I was excited, and that whole year I was just thinking about Jordan pretty much. I'm preparing for that match, thinking about, "Hey, I can do this. I can make preparations to win this match." When I got to the US Open, that time from the US Open to the trials was really difficult for me, weight management and just my body, it was just falling apart. It was just wrestling at an elite level since I was eight years old through that... I was really struggling towards the end of my college career with just health and with my back and my neck. And I think it just really came to a head in 2014, 2015. I just couldn't put tournaments together. And it wasn't necessarily a physical fatigue as much as it was just, I don't know, as mental, but also just, I felt like my body wasn't performing the way it needed to perform at that 16

Mike Mal (16:18):

Because of an accumulation of small injuries?

David Taylor (16:20):

Yeah. Accumulation of small injuries, and just having that different type of endurance where I had gone, where in college, I could get a takedown and no matter how I felt. I was on top. And I could reverse guys, I could turn them, and I could... In freestyles, it was getting used to, okay, in college, it was six minutes or seven minutes of, I just need to get that takedown. And then it was like, okay, I could get my reversal, I could ride a guy, get my riding point. I could score the points, I could wear guys down.

David Taylor (16:49):

Internationally, it was getting used to a completely different type of exchange. Freestyle wrestling is sprint, recover. College wrestling is more of endurance, I got to just wrestle six, seven minutes. Freestyle is, the best guys are sprint, recover. You got to go hard, you got to recover, but I had always recovered on that mat. Always, my entire life. I could go super hard, win the scramble, I was on top. I learned how I could relax. I didn't have to flex. Freestyle was different. And when I was wrestling a guy like Jordan, where it's just sprint, recover, sprint, recover, sprint recover. It was just that constant reaction, flexing. I hadn't really been experienced to that.

David Taylor (17:27):

And that was, I just talked about that, Jordan, his fifth, sixth minute, he's really good then. Jordan may be one of the most mentally tough athletes that you see wrestle. He's proven that so many times that he can just find ways to win matches And that's what makes him great. And I think at that point in time, again, he knew how to do that, I was trying to figure it out. And over time, like I told you, it takes time and experience. You can't just expedite that process.


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Mike Mal (18:03):

When I see... and this is not only true of you, it's also true of Jordan, when I see you talk about him and his best attributes, you talk about his mental toughness, he talks about your savvy. You talk about his conditioning, he talks about yours. And there's a reverence that both of you have for one another, but you're happy about it. Why are you happy to wrestle one of the toughest sons of guns ever to do it?

David Taylor (18:34):

You're giving me chills. That's why you compete. I'm a competitor. I want to wrestle the best guys. You want to wrestle the guys that are the best guys. You just want to challenge yourself. It's like, okay, I feel like I have a great conditioning foundation. I feel like I can score. I know I can fight through positions. Okay, this guy can do it really well also. Let's do it. Let's fight. And when we have exchanged and we've wrestled over the last couple of years, that's how our matches are. They are... I'm probably the only one that wrestles him fearlessly. But I am, so I do.

David Taylor (19:12):

And that's just how I wrestle everybody. That's why, to me, I'm smack in the middle. I have big matches above and below me. And it's because of the way that I wrestle. It's because of the way that I'm fearless. I'm going to go out, and I'm going to score, and you know when I step on the line, you know what's coming. And it's going to be excitement, it's going to be scrambles. It's not going to be calculated, one shot will determine this match. That's not happening. And I think there's an element with Jordan where I feel like his best chance is to not do that, but that's against what makes him great. So I want to encourage that. I want the exchanges and I want us to scramble, I want us to have fun. And I believe that I can come out on top of it in those exchanges.

Mike Mal (19:52):

What's the under-over for points in this match?

David Taylor (19:55):

That's a good question. It really depends. It truly 100% depends on what strategy Jordan takes. I don't truly believe that it's coming out and getting after it. And it has nothing to do with his conditioning level. It's just the respect of man, if I really come after it and get after this, the more exchanges that happen, he knows that I don't think he is favored in those exchanges. But when scoring starts happening, you got to keep up, and I feel like I'm a guy that's going to score multiple times a match and that's going to open up scoring opportunities one way or the other for both of us.

Mike Mal (20:33):

Okay. Let's shift gears a little bit and talk about just you instead of the match itself. If there's one thing that you could change about wrestling at any level, then what would it be?

David Taylor (20:47):

One thing that I could change?

Mike Mal (20:48):

Yeah. Something that you could make better.

David Taylor (20:57):

That's a loaded question. Wrestling has obviously provided a lot of opportunities for me in a lot of ways. So, I don't know. What would I change? I would say if there's a way to... I don't know. We'll have to come back to this question, probably.

Mike Mal (21:10):

Okay. We'll come back to it. We'll get back to it. Are you superstitious at all? Do you have a pre-match routine that you just need to get through?

David Taylor (21:30):

I think everyone has a little bit of a superstition, whether it's a real superstition, but it's really just a routine. And I think that everyone has their routine that is going to help them be successful. So, yeah, definitely you want to stick to that, but we talk about that experience thing where, I remember when I was younger, you could ask probably my drill partners when I was younger, Zach Neibert would be someone you could definitely ask, when I was in high school. If I was getting ready for a match and I went to hit my shot and wasn't perfect, I would freak out, and be like, "Why would you move your leg? I'm trying to hit this shot." And then we'd basically get in a fight, basically, on it. And he was one of my best friends and thankfully he was-

Mike Mal (22:11):

He didn't take it personally.

David Taylor (22:12):

He didn't take it too personally. But I think as time goes on, you realize, listen, it's not going to always be perfect. And you can have a routine, you can have all these things, but there's going to come a time when you're not going to have what you need or what you want, what you think is going to be perfect. And you come to believe, okay, man, you just kind of accept it. It's not going to be perfect, but I'm still going to be ready to go out and scrap and do what I've been preparing for, for a long time.

Mike Mal (22:34):

What advice would you give, what advice do you give to young athletes when they're talking about weight management? Because you're a guy that has obviously benefited from going up in weight and getting bigger and getting stronger. Is that something that you would recommend for just about everyone in this sport?

David Taylor (23:00):

Well, I don't know if there's a true answer to that question. I think my answer to people is you got to do what you feel is going to make you most competitive, and also what's going to help you continue to progress. I've been stuck where I've been cutting weight and I'm not progressing, and I'm just focusing on weight management and I'm focusing on getting my weight down, and what do I weigh after weight practice, and how much can I eat, just to not be behind the next day. And that's where I was six years ago, and it was terrible. I hated it. I started to not like any of the process.

David Taylor (23:31):

But going up in weight is not any easier because now you, okay, I've been cutting weight, now I'm wrestling bigger and stronger guys, I've been cutting weight, so I don't have the strength. I got to really focus in this area. It's just a completely different conditioning level when you got 25 pounds in your backpack, and you're trying to operate that same threshold you've operated your entire life.

David Taylor (23:56):

So there's definitely two ways about it. And I think my advice is just, you just got to do it naturally. You got to let it just go. If you try and just, okay, I'm going to go up a weight class, I'm just going to gain the weight, you're going to feel terrible. It's bad weight. You got to just let your body slowly do it on its own, and continue to focus on wrestling. Or if you're going to go down, you got to have a good plan, you got to be very disciplined about it. So I think either way, if you go up or if you go down, it takes a very similar discipline level. And I think a lot of times people just take either one of those for granted, and then it affects your performance.

Mike Mal (24:32):

Okay. Can you think of an instance or a particular time when you made the jump to 86 and you go, "Oh, crap, maybe this was a bad idea."

David Taylor (24:43):

Oh yeah. A lot. I was really second guessing that decision for a while, because I was really struggling. I just couldn't function.

Mike Mal (24:59):

What was it though? Was it the hanging on the head? Was it the-

David Taylor (25:03):

Well, I just, I think the biggest thing was just, I had been basically cutting weight, managing weight, for a long time. So then in doing so, like I said, my back was hurt, so I couldn't lift. I had poor nutrition. So when going up, I had a bad foundation. So when I went up, I gained the weight, but I didn't really have what it would take to wrestle guys that were bigger than me and stronger than me or, or even just a better wrestler.

David Taylor (25:34):

So, I feel like when I really questioned it was when I went to Azerbaijan in fall of 2016. Is that right? 2016. And I got crushed, I got crushed. I got tech falled in a minute. I just got picked up, thrown down, gut wrenched, taken down. I wasn't even close, 25. But then it's just one of those things where, okay, it's a super humbling experience, and if I truly want to achieve my goals, I'm committed to this, I have to get better. And then I just really focused on getting better. So it was definitely a blessing for me in my career, but it was tough.

Mike Mal (26:17):

Okay. Do you think that the injuries that you sustained, neck and back, had anything to do with the weight cut?

David Taylor (26:21):

Definitely. Yeah. Well, I would say definitely, probably made it worse, but I remember I had my first back spasm when I was 10 years old. I couldn't even tie my shoes, I couldn't put my socks on. So I always dealt with that. But my dad was like, "Hey, listen, you kind of chose this route. So if we're going to go, you got to suck it up and you got to be tough." So I just learned, I'm going to wrestle through it, I'll be tough, suck it up. So I think that that just compounded over time.

David Taylor (26:58):

But now that I've learned more about the importance of nutrition and how that can affect just what you're putting in your body and just perform. I say this, but I was also, my diet consisted of soda and candy and garbage. Okay, I can eat something really good? I'll eat a Chipotle burrito. So I was making... I didn't really know at the time, the repercussions of those choices on my nutrition.

David Taylor (27:22):

But it's a whole... You can't be the best in the world without doing everything right. It's too hard. It's too hard to win at that level because there's other there's guys that are more talented than you, there's guys that are tougher than you, there's guys that have a better... It's always... There's someone out there that has something... But who can put all of it together at the right time during that tournament consistently over four or five matches? And that's where that foundation builds. And I think that's where I've been building that foundation for a while and it's not always perfect, but I believe in what I'm doing, I believe in my coaches, I believe in my training environment. And I believe in my abilities every single time I step on the mat.

Mike Mal (28:09):

Okay. When it is all said and done, David Taylor leaves his shoes in the center, what do you want people to say about you as a wrestler?

David Taylor (28:21):

I don't know. That's for people to say. I think, I've just wrestled a lot of big matches in my career. I don't think I've ever been afraid to wrestle a big match, to avoid a weight class because somebody is there. So, I've lost matches, I've won matches. I'm going to lose more, I'm going to win more in the rest of my career, but ultimately it's just the competitor that I am. I step out there and I'm going to give you 100% the entire time. Everything that I got, that I have in my tank, I'm going to leave out there every single time. And I've been doing that for a really long time. And I plan on doing that moving forward. I don't plan on being done wrestling anytime soon. So that's just the biggest thing. I'm going to give 100% every single time I step out there.

Mike Mal (29:07):

Okay. Perfect world, perfect world, your ideal situation when you're done wrestling competitively, what do you do? Are you going to go into coaching? Are you going to... at an NCAA level? Are you going to go into marketing? I don't know. What, in your perfect world, what do you do after you're retired?

David Taylor (29:34):

I think when I'm done wrestling, it's hard to picture a world where you're not in wrestling. I'm super passionate about helping these kids and the next generation, with my club, M2 Training Center, it's something that, I think building these relationships that I've had, that I have right now, especially with kids of all ages, whether they're going to go into college or they're going to go into high school or they're getting ready to go into middle school or whatever it is, just continue to help these kids achieve their goals is something that I really enjoy. And I think I wouldn't be where I am without obviously the sacrifices that my parents made throughout my entire life to get there. So I think I recognize that and I really enjoy that side of things.

David Taylor (30:19):

So I think, long story short, yeah, I think it's to be involved in wrestling. I think there's a lot of different levels that I could be in, but I really enjoy the club atmosphere. I think a lot of times in clubs, you have very individual agendas, and I feel like we've done a really good job here. We have a great staff of creating a family environment, a team environment. And it's cool to see that. So I just think continue trying to build that, to help kids understand that doing things together is really cool and really special. So I'd like to continue to help try and be a part of that.

Mike Mal (30:57):

Where do you think you can make the biggest impact in this sport? At the youth level, high school level, college level, international level? Where can you, whether it be as a competitor, whether it be probably after we're done, or after you're done competing, where can you make the biggest impact?

David Taylor (31:16):

I feel like the biggest impact, it could be at any level. I think it's just, I'm not going to say, hey, this is exactly where I want to be or what I want to do. I think I can help guys on different aspects because of the way that my career has been. I've kind of done the whole thing. I was a successful youth wrestler, middle school, high school, collegiately, internationally. So I feel like I can help guide people in different directions.

David Taylor (31:43):

But it's a tricky thing when guiding people, because you don't ever want to feel like you're telling someone what to do, that's the last thing anyone wants to hear. So it's challenging, but I just try to do my best to lead by example when I can. So I think that's the biggest impact that I can. Talking about the way that I wrestle, the way that I prepare, the way that I come to practice every single day, the way I compete in competitions. I feel like that hopefully is a way that I can impact people now and in the future.

Mike Mal (32:14):

You, growing up, wrestled a ton, as a youth wrestler, as a high school wrestler. Are you the blueprint or are you the exception to the rule?

David Taylor (32:30):

I go back and forth on that.

Mike Mal (32:32):

So do I.

David Taylor (32:33):

Because there's a lot of guys that did the path that I did and didn't make it, but there are some that did. Growing up with Jordan Oliver, growing up with Logan Stieber, Kyle Dake.

David Taylor (32:47):

Kyle was kind of the middle ground. So as a young kid, he wasn't really that good, but he did it all. He was there, he participated. And when I say he wasn't that good, he was still good. He was still placing in the tournaments. And he really hit his stride later. And I think that his dad had a good example. His dad wrestled in college, obviously wrestling in a high level. And when he started taking it more serious, obviously primarily really in college, he really hit his stride, he's been really successful.

David Taylor (33:18):

So I think it's a fine line between something like that and what I did. I think it's hard to just... There's so much specialization now, at a young age, in any way that you do it, but specializing too early can be really difficult. So I think a lot of that has to be, parents have to be able to support their kids, but the kids have to really want to do it. And I think that that balance is going to constantly shift. And I think if it shifts one way too much, then it can be really difficult. So I just think that relationship between athlete, parent, and also having a coach that can help facilitate that is probably the answer. So to answer, what's the blueprint? I don't know. I think it constantly changes.

Mike Mal (34:03):

That's interesting.

David Taylor (34:04):

But I do think that there's no substitution to experience, and I've been wrestling in big matches my entire life. And I believe that in doing so, I've always loved that, and that's obviously why we're here where we are now is because I've never shied away from that.