Former Penn State wrestling great David Taylor dominated Saturday at the UWW Men’s Freestyle World Cup — and in front of a national TV audience no less.
Taylor, who wrestled for the Nittany Lions from 2010-2014, had a 10-0 technical fall over India’s Pawan Kumar in the 86-kilogram bout. And Penn State’s “Magic Man” followed that up with a 12-2 tech fall over Japan’s Masao Matsusaka in a match that was aired live on NBCSN.
Thanks in part to Taylor’s effort, Team USA cruised past India 10-0 and beat Japan 7-3 at Iowa’s Carver Hawkeye Arena. Team USA will face Georgia at 11 a.m. Sunday, and a win would push it to the gold-medal team match at 5 p.m — which will also air live on NBCSN.
“It feels great to come to Carver-Hawkeye Arena and be cheered for,” Taylor told Track Wrestling. “This is an amazing crowd.”
If Taylor’s Team USA does manage to capture the gold, it would be its first time winning the Freestyle World Cup since 2003. But there is a bit of a catch here: Neither wrestling superpower Russia nor Iran are taking part in the international dual meet, after Russia reportedly ran into visa problems and Iran simply informed the U.S. it wouldn’t be participating. (Last year, in response to President Donald Trump’s executive order limiting immigration, Iran barred the U.S. from traveling to Kermanshah for February’s World Cup before relenting two days later.)
The other international teams, besides Team USA, taking part in the event include Azerbaijan, Cuba, Georgia, India, Japan, Mongolia and Kazakhstan.
Still, Taylor told USA Wrestling earlier in the week that he was honored to take part in the prestigious match. And bringing home gold would certainly be a nice bonus.
“Any time you have an opportunity to wrestle for the United States, that’s pretty special,” Taylor said. “We’re hungry, and we’re definitely ready to roll.”