Wrestling David Taylor

BY CODY GOODWIN | MARCH 12, 2014 5:00 AM

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Nick Moore is standing underneath the Kohl Center, trying his hardest to describe what it’s like to wrestle Penn State’s David Taylor.

“He’s not like the normal …” he begins, before saying: “He doesn’t stop to check himself. There’s no hesitation; he just keeps wrestling. That’s the main thing.”

He continues: “It’s hard to say right now. I’m just trying to process the whole match.”

Moore lost to Taylor for the fourth time in his college career in the 165-pound finals of the 2014 Big Ten tournament. The bout was highlighted by Taylor’s second-period granby-roll-turned-takedown, solidifying his moniker as the “Magic Man.”

Though the move was spectacular, the result itself — a 14-5 major decision — was nothing out of the ordinary.

Taylor’s pummeled Moore each time the two have wrestled, winning by a combined 59-10. Twice Taylor has beaten Moore by technical fall, and twice he’s won by major decision.

It seems, at least on the surface, that Taylor is the mountain Moore can’t seem to climb, despite closing the gap each time the two have wrestled. Coming into last weekend’s conference championships, Taylor was the only Big Ten foe Moore hadn’t beaten.

“A loss is a loss,” Moore said. “There’s still a long ways to go.”

It’s been that way for many of Taylor’s opponents for much of his career. Now a senior, Taylor’s compiled a 129-3 overall record. He’s never lost to a Big Ten opponent. His conference title this past weekend was his fourth in as many years. And of his 129 wins, 121 have come in bonus-point fashion.

Even more, only two wrestlers have been able to beat Taylor. During his freshman year, he was pinned in the NCAA finals by Arizona State’s Bubba Jenkins, and just last year, former Cornell wrestler Kyle Dake beat Taylor at both the Southern Scuffle and in the finals of the NCAA Tournament.

“My mindset is nothing but being a national champion,” Taylor said. “So every time I step out on the mat — and it’s been challenging this year, at times — I have to take every single guy as if it’s their best performance. You just have to be ready every time.”

To train for a wrestler as good as Taylor, Moore said he’ll spend plenty of time watching film with assistant coach Ryan Morningstar. Together, they’ll look at the mistakes made and create a plan for what he can focus on to chip away at the gap even more.

“Just have to keep getting tougher,” Moore said.

That process has already started. On Monday, Morningstar had the match on in his office, watching and critiquing, looking at what went right when Moore allegedly had a takedown before Taylor’s granby roll turned the moment back into his favor.

Of course, there have been smaller moments where Moore has been able to take Taylor down and dictate the pace of the match. It’s those moments that show Iowa wrestling coach Tom Brands that Moore is certainly capable of competing at Taylor’s level.

“I believe that Nick Moore is better than he showed today,” Brands said on Sunday. “I believe in our guys.”

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