Jeff Jordan: Graham grad Taylor reaches ‘pinnacle of wrestling’ with gold medal

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David Taylor interview (Aug. 5, 2021)

Jeff Jordan coached gold medalist David Taylor to his fourth straight state championship 12 years ago

David Taylor was 9 years old when he first attended Jeff Jordan’s State Champ Camp. He kept going back every year even though his family lived in Wyoming. Eventually, the Taylors moved to Ohio so David could attend Graham and continue to learn from Jordan.

» PHOTOS: David Taylor through the years

Although Jordan retired as Graham coach in 2018 after winning 17 straight state team championships, the camp lives on, and Jordan was coaching at the camp this week as his former wrestler Taylor prepared for the most important matches of a legendary career.

Even after a long day at the camp Wednesday and knowing he needed to be back on the mats at 9 a.m. Thursday, Jordan and a number of coaches helping him at the camp stayed up until 3:30 a.m. watching Olympic wrestling.

Jordan knew he couldn’t stay awake until 6:30 a.m. when Taylor was scheduled to wrestle for the gold medal but planned to get up in time to watch the match.

“And then I fall asleep,” Jordan said. “The next thing I know my phone is going crazy. I wake up and go, ‘Oh, I missed it!’ I pick up the phone and look down and see: David Taylor, gold medalist. He won, and I missed it.”

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David Taylor of Graham gets a hug from coach Jeff Jordan after defeating Manuel Cintron of Alliance at 135 lbs. to become a four-time Ohio state wrestling champion Saturday, March 7, 2009, at the Schottenstein Center in Columbus. Staff Photo by Barbara J. Perenic

David Taylor of Graham gets a hug from coach Jeff Jordan after defeating Manuel Cintron of Alliance at 135 lbs. to become a four-time Ohio state wrestling champion Saturday, March 7, 2009, at the Schottenstein Center in Columbus.
Staff Photo by Barbara J. Perenic

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David Taylor of Graham gets a hug from coach Jeff Jordan after defeating Manuel Cintron of Alliance at 135 lbs. to become a four-time Ohio state wrestling champion Saturday, March 7, 2009, at the Schottenstein Center in Columbus. Staff Photo by Barbara J. Perenic

Taylor rallied from 2-0 and 3-2 deficits to win 4-3 against the defending Olympic champion Hassan Yazdani, of Iran. Taylor scored a two-point takedown with about 17 seconds remaining at Makuhari Messe Hall in Tokyo.

“What an exciting match,” Jordan said. “His constant pressure ... he was just not going to be denied. He had that blast double leg with 17 or 16 seconds left to seal the victory, and we all know how tough Yazdani is.”

“There was no way I wasn’t going to find a way,” Taylor told reporters in Japan. “It’s the gold medal, man. I was going to rip my arms off if I had to.”

Jordan said he’s not good with using social media but sent a message to Taylor on Twitter. He wrote, “Congratulations to @magicman_psu on accomplishing your dream of Gold.”

Explore» TAYLOR: Gold medal is 'for our entire country'

While at Graham, Taylor won four straight state individual championships. He’s one of 32 wrestlers in Ohio High School Athletic Association history — Jordan is also in that group as are his sons Bo and Micah and brother Jim — to achieve that feat.

“He’s a special one,” said Jordan after Taylor’s final high school match in 2009. “There aren’t too many David Taylors out there in the world today.”

Taylor had won every other type of major championship in his post-high school career: two NCAA championships at Penn State; a world championship in Budapest in 2018; two World Cup championships; three Pan American championships; and six U.S. Open championships.

Taylor failed to make the Olympic team in 2012 and 2016 and then had to wait an extra year for another chance when the 2020 Olympics were delayed until 2021. Along the way, he overcame a knee injury in 2019.

Taylor is the first former Graham wrestler to win an Olympic gold.

“That’s that’s the pinnacle in wrestling,” Jordan said. “David, I think, at the age of 10 was destined to win a gold medal because of his work ethic.”

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