The time was right for David Taylor.
As was the location.
The former two-time national champion and two-time Hodge Trophy winner claimed two consecutive wins over Wolfpack Wrestling Club’s Nick Reenan Saturday night to claim a spot on the U.S. World Team at 86 kilograms, the first of his career.
Taylor had previously been thwarted in his attempts to make the team, falling to World and Olympic champ Jordan Burroughs, Olympic bronze medalist J’den Cox and longtime nemesis Kyle Dake along the way.
This time, there would be no losing.
In front of a raucous crowd at Rec Hall, Taylor dispatched of Reenan without too much difficulty.
In the first match, Reenan took a 2-0 lead to quiet the crowd before the man they call “The Magic Man” roared back with 13 unanswered points for a tech fall. The second match was much like the first, except Reenan failed to get on the board.
Taylor used a combination of takedowns and a tough leg lace to roll to a 12-0 first period tech fall, sending the crowd into a frenzy in the process.
“It feels dang good,” Taylor said. “I mean, this is not the end goal. My goal is to be a World and Olympic champion, but this is the first step.”
Taylor will have the opportunity to accomplish part of that goal when he travels to Budapest, Hungary for the 2018 UWW World Championships in October.
A 2018 Ivan Yarygin champion, Taylor will have a good shot at the top seed at Worlds.
Taylor spoke often in post-match interviews about how meaningful it was for him to make his first team at Rec Hall where he was revered his fantastic collegiate career.
The aforementioned Dake also made his first World Team, taking out Zahid Valencia in two straight tight matches at 79 kilograms. Both he and Taylor trained together in the lead up to Saturday’s Final X event.
“I’m fortunate to have great training partners every single day,” Taylor said. “So when you can add in a guy of his caliber, it only makes it a little bit better.”
Dake claimed a 4-0 win in the first match over Valencia and used a second-period crotch lift and gut wrench to come from behind and win 4-3 in the second.
“Zahid’s a great opponent,” Dake said. “He’s got some serious length and athleticism, so having to go out there and compete with someone like him, his caliber, is pretty fun for me.”
In the final men’s pairing of the evening, 2016 61 kilogram World Champion Logan Stieber saw off a tough test from Ohio RTC teammate Joey McKenna at 65 kilograms. Stieber used a four-point throw to help jump out to an early lead before McKenna started to spur a comeback.
With Stieber leading 8-7 late, McKenna forced a step out but Stieber claimed the 8-8 victory on criteria, having scored the four-pointer.
The second match was all Stieber, as the four-time NCAA National Champ picked his spots and earned a comfortable 8-0 win.
On the women’s side, the story of the night was three-time World Champion Adeline Gray.
Gray, who coaches at Wyoming Seminary in Pennsylvania, dominated opponent Kori Bullock at 76 kilograms. In first match she got and early takedown and converted it right to a lace to grab a 10-0 tech fall.
In the second, Gray again scored an early takedown and locked up an armbar, took Bullock to her back and got the fall.
The other two women’s match-ups of the night each went to a third and decisive match.
At 62 kilograms, four-time NWCA Champion Kayla Miracle took on three-time champ Mallory Velte.
Miracle used strong defense to fend off a late attack and take the first match 4-2.
In the second match, Velte fell behind 2-0 but picked up the offense in the second period, converting two shots for takedowns and walking away a 4-2 victor.
The final match was all Velte, as the recent Simon Fraser (Canada) graduate racked up three takedowns and won 7-1, returning to the World Team for the second consecutive year.
The last women’s match was a case of youth versus experience, as 2015 team member Erin Clodgo, who took third in the 2007 trials, squared off with 20-year-old Rachel Watters of Iowa who was looking to make her first senior national team at 72 kilograms.
Clodgo used savvy defense and positioning to grab a 4-2 win in the first match after a late Watters takedown was followed by a failed challenge.
Watters adjusted well in the second match, however, converting on shots from space and racking up an 8-0 victory.
In the final bout of the night it was the veteran who would prevail.
Clodgo got out to an early 3-0 lead before Watters battled back and took a 4-3 lead with just under a minute remaining. With 30 seconds left, Clodgo got in on a nice left-handed shot and converted it for a step out, taking a 4-4 lead on criteria. She then defended well and took the win, making her second team.
Check out complete results from USA Wrestling here.