Oklahoma State hires Olympic gold medalist David Taylor as wrestling coach

Aaron Brooks, left, and David Taylor embrace after a bout at 86 kilograms in the finals at the U.S. Olympic wrestling team trials in State College, Pa., Saturday, April 20, 2024. (AP Photo/Aidan Conrad)

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