Oklahoma State hires Olympic gold medalist David Taylor as wrestling coach

Oklahoma State has hired Olympic gold medalist David Taylor as its wrestling coach to replace John Smith, the school said in a news release Tuesday.

Taylor, 33, won gold in the 86-kilogram freestyle class at the Tokyo Olympics in 2021 when he beat Iran’s Hassan Yazdani. He sought another Olympic slot this year, but lost to Aaron Brooks in the 86-kilogram finals at the Olympic Trials last month and quickly pivoted.

“It’s an honor to be in this position and I’m extremely grateful,” Taylor said in a statement. “I’m looking forward to the future of Oklahoma State wrestling. It has an unbelievable tradition and I’m excited to be part of it moving forward. I’ve achieved everything I have wanted in my personal career, and this is no longer about me. I am just thrilled to be in the position to help others achieve their goals, and truly make an impact in the wrestling world and on the lives around me.”

Taylor, a three-time world champion, is one of the most decorated wrestlers in U.S. history. As a college wrestler at Penn State, he won two national titles, was a four-time national finalist and twice won the Hodge Trophy as the nation’s best collegiate wrestler.

He has massive shoes to fill. Smith retired after a 33-year run that produced five NCAA team championships, 33 individual NCAA champions and 23 conference titles. Under his direction, Oklahoma State produced 153 All-Americans and a 490-73-6 dual record.

“Replacing a legend like John Smith is a daunting task,” Oklahoma State athletic director Chad Weiberg said. “He has been the face of Oklahoma State wrestling nearly four decades. In many ways, David has had a similar path in becoming our head coach. I know he respects and admires John and is up to meeting the high expectations we all share for this program.”


AP Summer Olympics: https://apnews.com/hub/2024-paris-olympic-games

Copyright © 2024 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, written or redistributed.

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