Taylor Topples Unbeaten Defending Champion to Reach State Title Match

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Photo by Jeff Yoder / Click here to view 2A state wrestling photo gallery.

Ryan Murken

Your Prep Sports

In the moments following his state semifinal on Friday Hayden Taylor was asked his plan for Saturday night’s final.

The response from Taylor was typical of a high school freshman.

“First of all,” Taylor began. “I want to go out there and have fun.”

Just moments before offering up his refreshing response Taylor showed the crowd at Wells Fargo Arena he is anything but an ordinary freshman on the wrestling mat.

Taylor (50-2) stormed into the Class 2A state title match, turning heads with an eye-popping 15-0 semifinal tech. fall of previously unbeaten and defending state champion Andrew Flora of ADM.

“It’s all about confidence,” Solon coach Blake Williams said. “He was super confident going in he’s not worried about what somebody has done in the past because he believes in his abilities and we believe in his abilities and it showed out there.”

Taylor has already had plenty of fun in his first state meet appearance, dominating his way to the 126-pound title match.

He pushed his season winning streak to 17 with a pair of wins on Friday outscoring Flora and seventh-ranked Camanche freshman Eric Kinkaid by a combined score of 23-2.

Taylor led Flora (37-1) after the opening period but outscore the senior and last year’s 113-pound champion 8-0 in the second period to take control.

The loss was just the second in the last 84 matches the Flora.

“It was really fun,” Taylor said. I had a slow start, a 2-0 first period but after that I just go things rolling.”

Taylor opened the second period on top but got Flora turned for a nearfall and didn’t let up.

The tech fall victory was the second bonus point win for Taylor in the tournament after an opening round pin.

“He started down and he was on his feet and I got that tilt,” Taylor said. “After that I knew it was going to be there over and over.”  

Taylor will attempt to become the fifth state champion in Solon history and first Spartan freshman to win gold when he faces fifth-ranked Bryce Hatten (35-3) of Winterset in the championship.

Hatten won a 16-6 major decision over New Hampton senior Mason Cleveland in the other semifinal.

“He got out right from the start and dominated the whole match but he’s not satisfied yet,” Williams said. “He wants to get that last one tomorrow night and no doubt.

That was the second of Taylor’s goals for Friday after having fun – to become the first Solon champ since Bryce West won gold at 120 pounds in 2017.

“Have fun first and second of all win a state title,” Taylor said. “That’s the goal.”

The dominating semifinal win from Taylor was the Friday highlight for Solon as the Spartans stayed in the thick of a crowded 2A title race.

Solon enters the final day of the three-day meet third in 2A with 52.5 points, four behind WAMAC rival and leader West Delaware and two points back of Union.

Centerville is fourth with 51 points followed by Independence with 50 and Clear Lake with 48.5.

The Spartans will have three wrestlers attempting to rack up points in the consolation bracket on Saturday morning.

Junior Zeb Gnida earned a pair of tech falls in the consolation rounds after a one-point loss in the quarterfinals at 132 pounds.

“We’ve had a lot of ups and downs,” Williams said. “Zeb Gnida has responded well getting two tech falls and that has helped getting bonus points for the team.

Senior Mike Hoyle fell to top-ranked Cody Fisher of Woodward-Granger in a 220-pound final and can finish as high as third on Saturday.

Hoyle (45-2) will face second-ranked Dakoda Powell of Spirit Lake Park in a consolation semifinal while junior Jax Flynn will take on fourth-ranked Jackson Kinsella of Creston for seventh place at 170 pounds.

“The four guys we have left we just have to see how high we can place tomorrow and let everything else fall,” Williams said. “We will concentrate on those four guys and hopefully they can finish on a positive note.”

Class 2A State Meet

Team scores – 1. West Delaware 56.5; 2. Union 54.5; 3. Solon 52.5; 4. Centerville 51; 5. Independence 49; 6. Clear Lake 48.5; 7. Prairie City-Monroe 45.5; 7. Spirit Lake Park 45.5; 9. Sergeant Bluff-Luton 45; 10. Clarion-Goldfield-Dows 41

Semifinals (Area Athletes Only)

126 – No. 3 Hayden Taylor (Solon) tech. fall No. 1 Andrew Flora (ADM) 15-0

220 – No. 1 Cody Fisher (Woodward-Granger) dec. No. 3 Mike Hoyle (Solon) 11-4

Third Round Consolations (Area Athletes Only)

132 – Zeb Gnida (Solon) tech. fall Cody Calvelage (Louisa-Muscatine) 17-2

170 – Jarron Trausch (PCM) dec. Jax Flynn (Solon) 7-6

Saturday’s Championship Match

126 – No. 3 Hayden Taylor (50-2) Fr., Solon vs. No. 5 Bryce Hatten (35-3) Jr., Winterset

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